Without any guidelines to implement the recent Supreme Court order on higher Provident Fund (PF) pension, the staff in various offices of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have asked their head office for a “direction” to address the queries from thousands of subscribers they have to face on a daily basis. The All India EPF Federation, an umbrella organisation of various unions working in the EPFO, in a letter, has demanded Central PF Commissioner Neelam Sami Rao for more employees in the pension wing as the workload of each office will be increased manifold once the offices start implementing the Supreme Court order.
In the letter, the federation’s secretary general R. Krupakaran said the existing staff would not be able to handle the works in addition to their normal duties. “After the judgment, several members and pensioners are visiting the offices for guidance for submission of option for higher pension or for various queries regarding the judgment. However, the Pension Division of the head office is yet to issue any direction/guidelines so as to deal with the higher pension cases in line with the Supreme Court order,” Mr. Krupakaran said. He told The Hindu that without such a guideline it was difficult for the staff to answer such questions and take a decision on the applications already received.
Mr. Krupakaran said there were a number of doubts regarding the conditions laid down in the judgment for higher pension. “At the moment every officer is approaching the order with his or her own understanding. It should be stopped and the head office should come up with a uniform approach for all offices,” he added.
The federation said that in the recent judgment, the apex court upheld the R.C. Gupta case verdict on the matter and several pension cases had earlier been settled by calculating the pensionable salary by taking 12 months’ average based on various High Court orders. “Now, in the light of the apex court order, these pension payment orders are needed to be revised as 60 months’ average pensionable salary,” he said.
The letter said a good number of applications were expected to receive in the offices within four months and the workload in the pension wing of each office would be increased manifold. “It is also learnt that several field offices have started forming special cells by posting the staff from other sections. You may be aware that all offices nationwide are running with acute staff shortage in each cadre. Each Dealing Assistant/Section Supervisor/Accounts Officer is allotted two or more tasks in the Accounts branch and other sections. In such a distressing condition of staff, forming special cells by utilising the skeleton staff from other sections will definitely be suicidal,” the letter said.
Mr. Krupakaran raised guidelines on four issues, including the legal position of already revised cases of those who retired before September 1, 2014, without exercising an option and whether the pensions revised by taking 12 months’ average pensionable salary on the basis of High Court orders need be revised to 60 months average. He has also asked whether the options from those who retired after August 1, 2014, can be accepted. “How to regulate the 1.16% extra contribution in respect of already revised cases and new optees?” he asked.