Madurai

EPFO staff burdened with Maharashtra workload

An Employees Provident Fund Organisation sub-regional office. File

An Employees Provident Fund Organisation sub-regional office. File   | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

“Employees threatened that ESMA will be invoked against them”

Employees of regional offices of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) at Madurai and Tirunelveli are irked since they have been asked to take up the work of Regional EPFO offices at Bandra and Nariman Point in Maharashtra.

Though Madurai and Tirunelveli districts are COVID-19 hotspots, employees were forced to work every day against the Centre’s guidelines for offices to function with 50% workforce.

“One of our colleagues here has contracted the infection two days ago,” an employee, on condition of anonymity, said.

Taking advantage of the pandemic, Regional PF Commissioners at Bandra and Nariman Point have pushed their PF claims to the EPFO offices in Madurai and Tirunelveli for settlement on the ground that there was a huge pending cases in Maharashtra.

While rules say that any claim should be settled within 20 days of receipt of application, offices in Maharashtra had kept them pending for more than 50 days even before outbreak of pandemic.

“Many claims are 130 days old and officials are forcing us to work overtime so that the applications are cleared at the earliest,” an employee complained.

The norms are that every Dealing Assistant should dispose of 20 claims a day, including those claims that are rejected.

But, officials were forcing employees in Tamil Nadu to dispose of a minimum of 40 claims excluding those that are rejected.

“We need to spend the same amount of time and energy to scrutinise a claim application that is rejected. This unfair demand means every employee will have to work daily and for longer hours besides taking care of the work of local offices,” he added.

Stating that all employees were under mental stress, threatening them with severe action if claims from Maharashtra were delayed has put them under more pressure. Besides, employees were being threatened that Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) would be invoked against them, if the claims were not properly settled, they said.

The employees wondered why claims of Maharashtra were assigned to Madurai and Tirunelveli, when the EPFO office at Chennai, another hotspot, too has a huge number of claims pending.

When contacted, Commissioner of Tirunelveli Region, EPFO, Ganesh Kumar Gnani, said the office was implementing orders of higher officials. Stating that the pandemic was a national problem, Madurai Region, Commissioner, Gopalakrishnan, said that the EPFO was working overtime to help workers of the nation who need money at the critical moment.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 2:28:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/epfo-staff-burdened-with-maharashtra-workload/article31935229.ece

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