With the period stipulated by the Employers’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) expiring on Wednesday for sections of employees and pensioners to exercise joint option along with their employers for higher PF pension, the demand has been made by John Brittas, Member of Parliament from Kerala, for extending the deadline by six months.
In a seven-page letter sent to Union Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav, the MP gave an elaborate account of issues and problems in exercising the joint option. Citing the R.C. Gupta judgment of the Supreme Court in 2016, Mr. Brittas wanted the government to provide an opportunity to those who retired, without exercising the option, before September 1, 2014 when amendments to the PF and Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) came into force. He made this demand as the present scheme of seeking joint options from the employees and pensioners did not cover those who retired prior to the given date.
The online facility for exercising the option in respect of those who retired after September 1, 2014 or who were still in service had “impractical requirements and complex process,” creating “significant challenges and hurdles” for the pensioners in availing themselves of the benefits of higher pension. To give an illustration, eligible pensioners and employees were unable to file the joint option document due to mismatch in the spelling of their name either on Aadhaar database or on the EPF database or unavailability of Aadhaar-linked mobile number.
Mr. Brittas demanded the modification of features of the portal, by dropping all complex requirements and limiting to uploading of the joint option document alone, as the EPFO, which had with it the data of the prospective beneficiaries, should carry out all further verifications required. He also urged the authorities to permit offline mode of submission too. He termed unnecessary the requirement of employers uploading the data of wages and EPS contributions of the employees, as they had been furnishing to the EPFO the relevant information from time to time.