The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the state-run pension fund manager, has permitted contributors to withdraw a non-refundable Covid-19 advance from their savings, the second time the EPFO has allowed such a relief measure due to the ongoing pandemic, an official statement said.
The move to allow special withdrawals during the pandemic, which has led to financial distress, was first introduced in March 2020 under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), a Covid-19 aid package.
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“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,” the statement released on Monday said.
To process claims, the EPFO has deployed a “system driven auto-claim settlement process”. EPFO members whose “know your customer” requirements are complete can immediatelt apply for the withdrawals.
Auto-mode of settlement enables the EPFO to reduce the claim settlement cycle to just three days as against the statutory requirement to settle the claims within 20 days, an official said.
The facility is especially targeted for those having monthly wages of less than ₹15,000.
Official figures show, cumulatively, the EPFO has settled more than 7.63 million Covid-19 advance claims, disbursing ₹18,698.15 crore in all since the facility was made available.
“High advance claims and amounts suggests even employed people were highly distressed by increasing costs, mainly because of Covid-19 treatments and inflation,” said Piyush Baxi, an economist with the State Labour Institute, Bhubaneshwar.