Data shared by the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has shown employees working with major IT companies have availed the maximum EPF advances. Following the coronavirus pandemic, EPFO offered members the opportunity to avail advance not exceeding three months’ basic wages and dearness allowances or up to 75% of the amount standing to the credit of their respective accounts. More than 33,000 employees at TCS have availed themselves of COVID-19 advances amounting to a total of Rs 1.5 crore from their employees’ provident fund (EPF) accumulations in the April-July period.
A few establishments manage the provident fund accounts of their employees, remaining within the administrative control of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). They keep the provident money with themselves but transfer the pension portion to the EPFO.
According to a report with the Financial Express, an estimated Rs 50,000 crore corpus are managed by nearly 1,550 establishments belonging to public, private and co-operative sectors.
Large companies are entitled to apply to EPF for exemption from the requirement to deposit the EPF contributions with the EPFO, even as all of them do keep EPF funds and manage it themselves, as per the EPFO guidelines.
EPFO data showed among the top five private exempted establishments in terms of the number of employees who have availed Covid-19 advance benefit, three belong to the IT sector – TCS, HCL and Infosys. And, together their employees account for around 17% of the total claims for advances settled during the period. TCS tops the list followed by HDFC Bank (12,921), HCL (11,957), Infosys (5,534) and Maruti (2,146), in that order.
“Such large number of claims from the Covid-unaffected IT and ITeS sectors show that labour market institutions like social security coverage, trade union and legal protection are important,” said XLRI professor KR Shyam Sundar.
In all, a total of 3,04,681 EPFO members from around 685 exempted establishments have availed the facility to withdraw Rs 3,128 crore from their accumulations in April-July. From the public sector, 15,654 KSRTC employees availed the benefit, followed by MSEB at 15,293, ONGC at 8,584, RINL at 4,850 and IOC at 3,487. The Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers tops the list in the cooperative sector.
Of the total 685 exempted establishments whose employees have availed the benefit, 182 are controlled by the government, 444 private and 59 establishments were in the co-operative sector. In terms of the amount disbursed, public, private and co-operatives account for 66.56%, 30.91% and 2.53% respectively.
According to EPFO, as on August 31, online Covid-19 advance claims of 35.30 lakhs members have been processed and Rs 9,369 crore has been disbursed to them. This includes exempted as well as other firms.