Govt to bring bill for social security to unorganised workers

Government has assured labour unions that it will bring a Bill aimed at providing social security benefits like health services, insurance, pension and banking for workers in the unorganised sector.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 12, 2015, 22:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Government has assured labour unions that it will bring a Bill aimed at providing social security benefits like health services, insurance, pension and banking for workers in the unorganised sector.

"He (Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya) promised that Bill for Social Security for Unorganised Sector workers will be brought in," said a press release.

The minister made this promise during a tripartite meeting between employer representatives, government and unions on proposed amendments to Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952.

He also announced that smart cards will be provided to unorganised sector workers and one house will be provided to every family of the contributing member.

He also stressed the need to reduce the threshold limit to 10 employees from existing 20 employees for coverage under the EPF & MP Act, 1952.

At present, all those firms employing 20 or more are covered under the social security legislation.

It is estimated that the proposed amendment to reduce the threshold limit to 10 will bring in 50 lakh more workers under the social security net of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

The EPFO has a subscriber base of over five crore. It is managing a corpus of Rs 6.5 lakh crore and receives incremental deposits of around Rs 70,000 crore every year.

According to the release, the Minister while responding to suggestions from participants said that number of members in the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) will not be reduced.

He further said there will be no restriction on the terms of members of CBT, EPFO's apex decision making body.

The employers and employees have an equal number of 10 representatives on CBT and this is proposed to be reduced to 5 members from each side.

Another proposed amendment mandates that no representative of employers and employees shall be member of board for more than two terms consecutively.

The Bill also proposes to do away with the Schedule of Industries and come up with a Negative List.

In order to remove the discretion, a limit of 5 years has been proposed with regard to assessment of (PF) dues against the establishment.

In order to reduce problems arising out of ex-parte assessments etc, a new appellate provision by appointing Appellate Officer has also been proposed.

Provisions for compounding of offences in deserving cases has been introduced to avoid protracted litigation.

Uniformity with regard to definitions of Wages is proposed to be introduced in line with the Employees' State Insurance Act.

Concluding the discussion, the minister stated that all the suggestions received during the consultation will be considered while finalising the Bill, according the press release.