Presently, the following three schemes are in operation under the Act:
1. Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952
2. Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976
3. Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995 (replacing the Employees’ Family Pension Scheme, 1971)
For many years, the EPFO has been a sort of Black Hole, with the members not aware of its functioning and members amount getting locked in EPFO accounts.
The reasons are numerous. EPFO officials too were engaged in the thought process to make their organization more member friendly.
The ‘Aadhaar Number’, has been a blessing in disguise to rapidly bring in transparency. Of course, there are always critics to any new step.
The main challenge for EPFO has been the integration of the local databases. EPFO has adopted the path of major IT reforms and the results are visible to the EPFO members.
The major reform so far is the launch of the Member portal, wherein the EPFO active members can view and download their EPFO Passbooks in the emode.
The next wave of reforms will be with the ‘Aadhaar number’, as the backbone. A series of online services using ‘Aadhaar number’ will be rolled out to EPFO members in this financial year.
Towards this end EPFO has made it mandatory for all new entrants to formal sector workforce from March 1 to have an Aadhaar number before they can enroll to the EPF.
For existing members the deadline is June this year to link their PF accounts with Unique Identification (UID) numbers.
Once the second set of IT reforms start rolling out, EPFO members will be able file online forms, experience portability of accounts and also benefit from auto transfer of claims into their member’s bank account.
A few trade unions have objected the linking of ‘Aadhaar numbers’, to the EPFO accounts, as in their view, majority of the EPFO members do not have still the ‘Aadhaar numbers’. Well, this is not a valid excuse, as the decision to enroll for ‘Aadhaar number’, is entirely the choice of the EPFO members.
The issue has also been raised in the last two meetings of the Central Board of Trustees where members of the EPFO’s apex decision making board called for permanent account numbers for construction workers, who lose out on social security benefits due to the migratory nature of their work.