In view of the financial crisis due to the second wave of COVID-19, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has allowed its members to avail second non-refundable COVID-19 advance, the Ministry of Labour and Employment informed on Monday. The provision for this special withdrawal to meet the financial need of members during the pandemic was first introduced in March 2020 under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).
An amendment to this effect was made by the ministry in the Employees' Provident Funds Scheme, 1952 by inserting therein sub-para (3) under paragraph 68L, through a notification in the Official Gazette.
"Under this provision, a non-refundable withdrawal, to the extent of the basic wages and dearness allowances for three months or up to 75% of the amount standing to member's credit in the EPF account, whichever is less, is provided. Members can apply for lesser amount also", said the ministry.
The ministry also informed that more than 76.31 lakh COVID-19 advances have been claimed so far. "The COVID-19 advance has been a great help to the EPF members during the pandemic, especially for those having monthly wages of less than Rs 15,000. As of date, EPFO has settled more than 76.31 lakh COVID-19 advance claims thereby disbursing a total of Rs 18,698.15 crore", it added.
Members, who have already availed of the first COVID-19 advance, can also opt for a second advance now. The provision and process for withdrawal of the second COVID-19 advance remain the same as in the case of the first advance.
"Considering the urgent need of members for financial support in these trying times, it has been decided to accord top priority to Covid-19 claims. EPFO is committed to settling these claims within three days of their receipt. For this, EPFO has deployed a system-driven auto-claim settlement process in respect of all such members whose KYC requirements are complete in all respects. Auto-mode of settlement enables EPFO to reduce the claim settlement cycle to just 3 days as against the statutory requirement to settle the claims within 20 days", the Ministry of Labour and Employment informed.
(With ANI inputs)