Soon, provident fund (PF) contributions of workers and their employers would be deposited uninterruptedly into PF accounts, irrespective of the employer.
Currently, funds of PF subscribers who change jobs aren't automatically transferred to new employers. A subscriber has to notify the Employees' Provident fund Organisation (EPFO) every time he changes a job. Otherwise, he loses his money, the way thousands of casual workers do.
EPFO is set to invite expressions of interest to set up a central server for the 50 million PF accounts in the country. This would mean irrespective of the employer, contributions of workers and their employers would continue to be deposited into accounts, said an EPFO official. He added the logic followed would be the same as in banking, where it didn't matter where an account holder was; his transactions with the bank continued uninterrupted.
For this, EPFO has decided bank account numbers would double as unique numbers. All new account holders would be asked to state their bank account numbers, so that these could be registered as unique numbers. In the next few months, existing members would also have to state their account numbers. The process is expected to take five to six months.
Centralisation of accounts was envisaged since long, as an increasing number of contract and casual workers have been unable to track their PF accounts once they changed jobs.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh General Secretary Baij Nath Rai, says though the central server is a step in the right direction, it wouldn't help subscribers who saw losses due to lump sum payments by their employers, in connivance with EPFO. "These workers will not be helped by any central server, but it can prevent such things from happening in the future," Rai said.
Ideally, payments by any subscriber (casual or permanent workers) should be recorded against his name. However, employers had made payments for several casual workers in bulk. They had given an arbitrary amount, in agreement with EPFO officials, former EPFO commissioner R C Mishra had said in a notification in November.