EPFO considers higher minimum wage cap 10 years after last hike

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Illustration: Binay Sinha

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is considering raising the monthly minimum wage ceiling from Rs 15,000 now to improve the coverage and bring millions of informal workers under its purview. The last increase in the minimum wage ceiling was in 2014 to Rs 15,000 from Rs 6,500.

The issue has been discussed in successive central board of trustee (CBT) meetings, which is the apex decision making body of the social security organisation, according to the minutes of the meetings seen by Business Standard.

“The central government minimum wages are Rs 18,000, but our wage ceiling since 2014 is still Rs 15,000, [thus] depriving many contractual workers from social security benefits. [I] request that the wage ceiling be increased to Rs 25,000,” Sunkari Mallesham, one of the employee representatives in the CBT, proposed when the board had met to decide the interest rate for its over 290 million subscribers in February, earlier this year.

Prabhakar J. Banasure, another employee representative on the board, had also suggested raising the limit to Rs 25,000 in the October meeting last year, as the minimum wage in many states is in the range of Rs 22,000 – 25,000.

“This will help in coverage of many workers who are deprived of provident fund benefits,” he said. This applies to employees in various companies, particularly in the cement industry, according to Banasure.

Even the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), which provides healthcare benefits to workers and comes under the administrative control of the labour ministry, has a higher wage ceiling of Rs 21,000 since 2017.

Discussions were also held to align the wage ceilings under the two social security schemes. Among other areas, there were deliberations on increasing the minimum pension amount to Rs 3000 from Rs 1000 due to the rising inflation.

“The Ministry of Finance had raised objections to increasing the minimum pension and this issue [needs to] be discussed with them,” another employee representative on the board Dilip Bhattacharya said.

Another proposal was to bring down the threshold limit for establishments to come under the purview of the social security organisation to 10 employees from the current level of 20 employees.

In addition, members of the board sought quick settlement of the higher pension cases, according to the minutes of the meeting. And it was decided that the actuarial report on impact assessment of higher pension would be shared in the next meeting.

Inside the CBT meet

The wage ceiling be increased to Rs. 25,000.

Millions of workers expected to benefit with the enhanced wage ceiling.

Proposal to raise minimum pension to Rs 3,000 to tackle inflation

Actuarial report on impact assessment of higher pension to be shared in the next meeting

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Pooja Gupta

CA Pooja Gupta (CA, ISA, M.com) having 15 years of experience. Educator and Digital Creator

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CA Pooja Gupta (CA, ISA, M.com) having 15 years of experience. Educator and Digital Creator

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