Tag Archives: EPFO

Action Against Defaulters: Quo vadis, the ESIC?

Excerpts from a news item from the Times of India dated 07.12.2012:

“It has been observed that open-ended assessment, inquiries and investigations serve no real purpose. Moreover, such inquiries often do not result in the identification of beneficiaries and only tend to harass the employers and establishments. It is accordingly directed that no inquiry or probe shall ordinarily go beyond seven years that is, it shall cover the period of default not exceeding preceding seven financial years. It is to be ensured that compliance actions are initiated in time and there is normally no reason for extending the scope of investigation and assessment inquiry beyond previous seven financial years,” Central PF commissioner R C Mishra said in a circular issued on November 30, the day he superannuated.

“This circular is anti-worker. The law of limitation does not apply on us and does not stand the test of law as there are several Supreme Court rulings on the issue,” said A D Nagpal, Hind Mazdoor Sabha secretary and a trustee on the EPFO board.

“Nagpal said that fearing action, employees often do not complain against their employer till they leave service and the new provision will make it impossible for them to claim what is due to them.”

“It is not proper to have a time limit for what is an employee’s right,” added CITU president A K Padmanabhan, who is also on the EPFO board. He said the EPF statement usually does not reach employees on time and very few actually check the balance and deposits carefully.

Even before the circular was issued, there were protests within EPFO over the move. Sources said some of the members of a committee of officers on judicial proceedings had opted out from giving their recommendations as they recognized that the move was not employee-friendly. Yet, Mishra went ahead and issued the directive.

TIMES VIEW

“In a country which has precious little by way of a social safety net, the provident fund is one of the few such fallback options, even if only for those in the organized labour force. Any change in the rules governing this scheme must therefore be tested on the touchstone of whether it enhances the safety net or weakens it. Imposing a time limitation on when defaults can be investigated clearly weakens it. Most of those whose savings lie in the EPF do not regularly track whether money is being deposited in it by their employers and, if so, whether it is as much as it should be. They may well discover a default well after it happens. Clearly, they cannot be left with no scope for redress due to a time limitation clause.”

What happened in the ESIC? The ESIC had, silently, restricted the duration to five years (and not seven as in the EPFO) and got the Act amended too. The cut-off date for determining the five years period is not with reference to the financial years but with reference to the 21st of every month. The cut-off date was just left to float, so fast.

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Filed under Amendments 2010

ESIC Inspection Procedure and its Impact on Society

(Dear Readers,

We have seen the theory and practice in Administrative Procedure in the earlier Posts. We have seen the link between the internal administrative procedure of a department and its impact on public. The current Post deals with certain vital aspects of the administrative procedure evolved in the Revenue Wing of the ESI Corporation and the way it directly affects the insured persons, insurable persons, employers, Social Security Officers and the Revenue Branch Officers. All the instructions cited in the Post are available in public domain.)

The objective of the ESI Scheme is to provide a variety of benefits to the working population. The provisions for inspection mentioned in the statute are, therefore, intended only to further that objective.  Concealed employment can be detected only through proper inspection including Ledger Verification in a thorough manner. A simple visit by the Inspector or his going around the factory cannot help detecting such cases. Inspections alone can ensure that all the coverable employees have been covered without being left out, and that contribution is paid on their behalf on all items of wages. If contribution is not paid on all items of wages, the benefits payable would only be a pittance and would not help sustenance of the family of the insured persons during the periods of sickness, maternity, etc., The provision for inspection in the ESI Act is, therefore, intended, mainly, to safeguard the benefit provisions.

The ESI scheme pre-supposed mutual trust on the part of the Employers and the Corporation. It was presumed that the compliance would be honest and correct. That was why the Act did not make inspection mandatory. But, when the scheme was enforced, it was found that the reality in the field was different. The working population was denied coverage or was given benefit very very less as the wages on which the contribution was paid was very less.

Periodical and proper inspections alone could safeguard the interests of the working population by ensuring proper coverage and compliance, the authorities understood. As the saying goes, the ESIC did not get what it expected. It got only what it inspected.

Former Director General, Mr. T.C. Puri who was in charge of the ESIC during the period from 1967 to 1972 had done personal research on insurance matters and issued orders for  proper documentation of the behaviour of the employers so that the Inspection methods could be made more effective when dealing with recalcitrant employers. He ordered that such details available with the ESIC authorities must help them to ascertain which employer was ‘absolutely honest’ and ‘above board’ and which employer was ‘trying to cheat the ESI Corporation’. He said that such information must be readily available to the SSOs whenever they join a particular inspection division. Proper and necessary focus was there at that time on the inspection procedure. That set the trend of inspections for more than 24 years from 1968 to 1992.

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Filed under Amendments 2010, For Trainees

When the PMO went wrong …

The PMO which happened to have some discussion about the workload of the employers once, issued a direction on its own, with the aim of reducing the workload of employers regarding ESIC and EPFO. Accordingly, a new challan format was devised and the ESIC and EPFO were directed to use it. It was a combined challan to facilitate the employers to pay the contributions of ESIC and EPFO at one go.
It resulted in chaos and posed a lot of administrative and legal problems in these organisations, besides making it inconvenient to the bankers to process the challans and credit the funds to the concerned organisations.
The employers asked why they should pay ESI dues also seven days in advance. Because, they had, as per law, one week’s time more to pay the ESI dues every month.
Things got changed when the ESIC introduced online payment later. But, during the period when the combined challan was being used because of the order of the PMO, the employers, the employees, the ESIC, the EPFO and the Banks had to face a lot of problems. But, nobody did say anything against the novel idea mooted by the PMO. They were reluctant to tell the PMO that it had diagnosed the problem wrongly.
The Lehman-Brothers-factor was at work.
Read, for more:

Lessons from M/s Lehman Brothers


This website will also be a forum to help the administrators by acting as a medium for expressing genuine grievances of the public, in public interest.
Patricia E. Powers recalls how the 1989 book, ‘The global village: transformations in World life and Media in the 21st century’, predicted that the customer as producer would take the initiative away from the conglomerate and cites Youtube as an example. (Newsweek July 30, 2012).
It would be helpful if the ESIC, which contemplates some more amendments, calls for the opinion of the public also, through their website, before making those proposals into law. Such a course of action will make the amendments, really purposeful and error free.

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Filed under Inspections

Quasi-Judicial Procedure in the ESIC & EPFO: Powerpoint

The intricate aspects of quasi-judicial procedure are highlighted in the Powerpoint Presentation for the benefit of the stake-holders of the ESIC and EPFO.

Please click on the link:

Quasijudicial procedure in ESIC & EPFO for employers

It can be seen best with MS Powerpoint 2010

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Filed under For Trainees, Powerpoints