The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) of India launched the EPF scheme 66 years ago, to protect the interests of employees and provide social security, both in the organised and the unorganised sectors.
While a majority of companies contribute towards the EPF, several other companies have established their own private PF trusts. Early last year, private provident fund trusts were directed by the EPFO to declare the interest at par or more; and if there was any deficiency in the interest declared, it should be made good by the employer maintaining such trusts.
One of the benefits of setting aside money this way is that the EPF contribution is a tax-free investment instrument for the salaried class.
The interest earned, and the returns on it are not taxed. You are also eligible to get a deduction under Section 80C for contributions made towards your EPF.
However, according to a report released by the Labour Ministry, nearly 300 companies that are running their own Provident Fund trusts are flouting rules and may have been failing to pay interest.
Here’s how to check if periodic contributions are being made:
1. Be mindful of the deduction being made at source and the salary being credited to you. Every once in a while, check your salary slip and your PF account.
2. In case there is a discrepancy, bring the issue up at the earliest with your in-house HR or finance department.
3. If the answer you get is unsatisfactory, escalate the issue by bringing it up before the management or the PF trust.
4. If the answer leaves you unsatisfied, you have the option of approaching the regional PF Commissioner or the Chief Vigilance Officer appointed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
5. Employees also have the option to raise the matter against their employer with the EPFO online. However, for this method of grievance redressal, the employee needs to provide the Universal Account Number (UAN) which is mandatory even for those employed with an employer managing a private PF trust. This method of resolution takes 30 days.
6. The last option is to approach the police and file a complaint under Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code for criminal breach of trust.
While these guidelines have been made to help safeguard the rights of the employees, it would help to be vigilant and keep tabs on your PF account.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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