As the deadline set by the Supreme Court for employees and pensioners who retired after September 1, 2014 to submit the joint options with employers to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to claim higher PF pension based on actual salary ends on March 3, the EPFO has approached the Labour Ministry seeking permission to extend the date for submission till May 4, 2023. The Ministry, however, has not taken any decision on this matter.
Sources in the EPFO told The Hindu that since several employers’ and employees’ organisations have approached them demanding extension of last date, the issue has been referred to the Union Labour Ministry. “The Labour Ministry will take the final decision,” a senior official said.
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Union Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav had not answered reporters’ questions on the sidelines of a conference of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) about the possibility of extending the deadline of submitting the joint options.
Meanwhile, president of the National Confederation of Retirees, an All India Federation of Associations of Retired Employees, said in a letter to Central Provident Fund Commissioner Neelam Shami Rao that the EPFO’s circulars on implementing the November 4 Supreme Court order on higher PF pension were illogical. “That the circular dated February 20 has been issued too late and not keeping in mind the deadline of four months stipulated by the Supreme Court. The EPFO is yet to streamline the process of online submission whereas the last date as per stipulated time is March 3, 2023. That the EPFO vide above circulars has made filing of fresh joint option online mandatory without keeping in mind the ground realities and this is totally illogical against the principles of natural justice. Imagine how the poor pensioners who are not tech savvy and have settled down in far-flung areas of the nation in the villages after retirement can file an option online! This is a totally unrealistic approach,” he said in the letter. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) had also sent a letter to Ms. Rao demanding an extension.
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The Karnataka Employees’ Association, in the meantime, said in a circular to its members that the web link for joint options will be available from Monday on the EPFO website. The Association said the deadline would be extended by two months. “The last date for submitting joint declaration will be extended by two months. Once the Member/Establishment logs in for uploading joint declaration, the system itself would display the last date for submitting declaration. The EPFO Head Office may not issue any circular in this behalf,” the Association said.