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Last Updated : Dec 12, 2019 07:24 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Social security bill | Differential EPF rates may boost take-home pay, rejig in gratuity rule proposed

The bill allows the government to notify sectors where a lower/differential EPF rate of contribution can be applicable


Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar on December 11 introduced in Lok Sabha a Bill to amend and consolidate nine laws relating to social security of employees. Notably, the bill allows workers in some sectors, who contribute to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), to increase their take-home salary

Differential EPF rates

The Code on Social Security, 2019 seeks to enable the central government to fix provident fund contributions (PF) to be made by employees in different sectors and provides for payment of gratuity to fix-term employees. In nutshell, the bill allows the government to notify sectors where a lower/differential rate of contribution can be applicable.

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It will also empower the central government to exempt certain establishments from all or any of the provisions of the proposed code.

Gratuity payment

The bill proposes payment of gratuity in case of fixed term employment on a pro-rata basis even if the contract is for less than five years. At present, gratuity is paid to workers completing at least five years of continuous service and does not differentiate between regular and contractual employees.

A special welfare scheme for unorganised workers is also provided for in the bill. These includes life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection, education, and housing. The bill, if passed, will call on state governments to formulate and notify suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers, including schemes relating to provident fund, employment injury benefit, housing, educational schemes for children, skill up gradation of workers, funeral assistance and old age homes.

Unorgainsed workers

The code also empowers the Centre to frame social security schemes and to create social security funds for unorganised workers and provides for compensation for employees in case of accidents while commuting from residence to place of work and vice versa.

It makes Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits under various social security schemes.

The Code on Social Security will subsume nine Central Labour Acts namely Employees' Compensation Act, 1923; Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981; Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 and Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act 1959.

Moving the bill, Gangwar said the code seeks to consolidate laws relating to social security of workers and subsume nine central laws.

He also told the House that the code is part of larger exercise of the government to codify 44 labour laws into four broad codes on wages, occupational safety, industrial relations and social security.

Last month, the Cabinet had approved Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019, which was later introduced in Lok Sabha.

The Code on Wage (first code) has already been approved by Parliament. The Code on occupational safety, health and working conditions has already been introduced in Lok Sabha and later sent to a standing committee for review.

The Code on Social Security states that the amalgamation of nine laws will facilitate implementation and remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities without compromising the basic concepts of welfare and benefits to workers.

It also says that the code will facilitate the use of technology ensuring transparency and accountability leading to effective enforcement.

The bill provides that if the employer fails to register employee under Employees State Insurance (health insurance scheme) or does not pay contributions under the scheme then the benefit provided to the employee by the ESIC under the scheme would be recovered from the employer.

It will also provide for limitation period of five for instituting proceedings in respect of assessment and determination of money dues form employers under social security schemes.

It would also allow funding under corporate social responsibility for various schemes for unorganised workers.

(With inputs from PTI)

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First Published on Dec 12, 2019 08:57 am
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