Indian professionals working in the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan may soon be exempted from paying social security contribution in those countries if they make such payments in India.
The benefit will be available under social security pacts that the Government is negotiating with these countries. The agreement will also ensure orderly migration of workforce to and fro and provide for cooperation in areas of labour market expansion.
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said his Ministry has already concluded negotiations with Canada for signing a social security agreement and talks are progressing with Japan, Australia and the U.S. for similar pacts.
“We have already concluded negotiations with Canada while talks are at advanced stage with Japan and Australia. We are also trying to firm up such a pact with the U.S. and the negotiations are progressing,” Ravi told PTI in an interview.
According to estimates, there are nearly four million Indians in the four countries with 70 per cent of them working as professionals in various fields, including IT.
The move by the ministry came in view of the fact that expatriate workers often do not get any benefit from the social security contribution paid abroad on their return home on completion of term of contract because most countries do not allow transfer of social security benefits.
As per Indian Government’s labour laws, all employees and employers falling under the purview of the Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952 are required to make mandatory contribution towards provident fund. A mandatory contribution fund is known by different names in different countries, such as social security in the U.S.
Though professionals posted in foreign countries continue to make such payments in India, they are compelled to pay social security tax in the host countries too leading to double contribution.
Under the S.S. pact, workers on short term contracts of up to five to six years will not be required to make any social security contribution in the country of employment provided they continue to make social security payments in the country of their origin.
Officials said the pacts would also help India Inc to send its employees to these countries for various overseas projects as companies would save on costs also.
The Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry has already signed social security pacts with a number of countries including the Switzerland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Mr. Ravi said the agreement will also enhance India’s bilateral cooperation with these countries.
The agreement was also aimed at the elimination of double payment on social security contribution and portability of pension and to prevent loss of benefits.
The ministry officials maintained that one of the priorities of the government was to diversify the overseas destination base for Indian workers and secure labour markets for them in the emerging job opportunities across the globe.
India has also signed Labour Mobility Partnership Agreement with several countries including Gulf nations that provides for exchange of information relating to diverse fields of employment.
Mr. Ravi said his ministry is also negotiating with the 27-member European Union for signing a labour mobility partnership agreement which ensures orderly migration of work force to and fro.
“We are holding talks with European Union for the LMPA to ensure orderly and legal migration of Indian professionals to the European countries. After signing the pact with EU we are planning to sign such pacts with individual European countries also,” he said.