Firms with own PF trusts await clarity on second COVID advance

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Three weeks after the government announced that Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) members can take a second COVID-19 advance from their retirement savings accounts, companies managing their own EPF trusts are reluctant to process requests from employees who have sought the advance.

Over 76 lakh COVID-19 advance claims worth ₹18,698 crore were cleared since the special withdrawal provisions to cope with the pandemic were introduced in March 2020. EPF members were permitted to make non-refundable withdrawals to the extent of basic wages and dearness allowances for three months, or up to 75% of their EPF balance, whichever is less.

On May 31, the Union Labour and Employment Ministry said a second such advance was being allowed ‘considering the urgent need of members for financial support in these trying times’, referring to the second COVID-19 wave as well as the emergence of the ‘mucormycosis’ or ‘black fungus’ epidemic.

“Several employees have been asking us for this advance to cope with the second wave’s medical costs and fresh income losses in their households. But there is no official notification or circular from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation that is hindering establishments with their own PF trusts from implementing the fresh COVID-19 advance,” said the finance head of a leading employer with over 5,000 employees that manages their EPF accounts in-house.

While EPFO’s regional offices have made a modification in their software to allow the advance, companies managing EPF accounts on their own cannot proceed simply on the basis of a press release about the provision, said an industry compliance adviser. “We are hoping that the EPFO will resolve this soon with a clear communique,” he added.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 3:49:26 AM |

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