Why it is important to track the money trail

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 11, 2011 04:54 hrs

Last August, the Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) pulled up Hiranandani Constructions for alleged non-payment of the Employees' Provident Fund (PF). It was despite the fact that the company had deducted the employees' share from their salaries.

In another case, a public sector bank employee was dismissed after he failed to repay his loans taken from the bank. His bank decided to stop its contribution to his PF.

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These are typical complaints for which individuals need help from the Consumer's Welfare Association. According to its joint secretary, Jehangir Gai, many people face harassment while collecting their PF amount from the employer, or getting it transferred to another employer.

However, even those amongst us who have not yet run into legal problems with our employers need to run a few routine checks to ensure that our funds are being deposited with EPFO and getting us the requisite returns.

Keeping a check
At the end of every financial year EPFO informs you about your balance with the organisation through a PF slip. Typically, you receive it within three-four months of the end of the financial year. So, for financial year 2010-11, you may receive your PF slip by June/July, 2011.

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The slip states your cumulative balance with the organisation. It also gives you a break-up in terms of your employer's and your contribution. The interest earned during the financial year will also be mentioned.

However, a mere receipt of the slip is not sufficient. Verify the numbers to pinpoint any discrepancy.

"Compare the current balance held with EPFO with the previous year's balance. Also, verify whether the amount specified in Form 16 (as your PF contribution) corresponds with the amount reflected in the PF slip by EPFO," suggests Kuldip Kumar, ED-tax and regulatory services, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Many leading companies have started informing employees about their compliance with regard to depositing statutory deductions with the authorities concerned. This could be for PF and even tax deducted at source.

"Large organisations, especially in information technology and fast moving consumer good sectors, are taking the initiative themselves as a good governance practice," says K H Viswanathan, executive director, RSM Astute Consulting Group.

Seeking redressal
A recent ruling by the National Commission ensured that even errant employees dismissed from service could seek redressal under the Consumer Protection Act.

"Organisations that administer their own PF trusts often freeze the PF payout to the employee in case there is any disciplinary issue involved and is unsettled yet. For such employees, the ruling is a blessing." says Gai.

You can also approach the Consumer Forum if you face any delay while collecting your PF amount from EPFO, or if the amount has been computed wrongly. You need to file a complaint against the respective regional EPFO commissioner.

If deemed necessary, the consumer forum may even award an additional compensation for any mental trauma caused to the consumer.

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Better still, work on the ‘prevention is better than cure' maxim. EPFO routinely puts out a list of companies which have defaulted on the payment of its EPF amounts to the organisation. Before accepting a job offer, run a simple search to ensure your potential employer does not feature in this list.

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