With a view to making employees and a section of retired employees of the State power utilities in Maharashtra eligible for higher Provident Fund (PF) pension, the MSEB (Maharashtra State Electricity Board) Contributory Provident Fund Trust has sought permission of the PF authorities with retrospective effect for exercising joint option under paragraph 26(6) of the Employees PF Scheme.
This had been done as it was mandatory for applicants of higher PF pension to upload the document pertaining to the permission under para 26(6) while submitting their option online.
The para 26 (6) pertains to the authorities’ nod, based on an option jointly given by employee-employer, for enrolling an employee as a member of the EPF Scheme or allowing the PF contributions more than the statutory ceiling in respect of the employee concerned and providing such an employee with the entitlement to benefits. The power utilities in question are the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company, Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company and Maharashtra State Electricity Board Holding Company.
In a letter to the respective regional PF commissioner, the Trust, which has been functioning since 1967, pointed out that even though the Bandra office of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had been conducting “audit on regular basis” and the Trust had complied with all the audit points, the EPFO’s officers had “never raised an audit point” regarding the permission under para 26(6) of the EPF Scheme, as they were “very well aware” that the contributions were on actual salary exceeding the prescribed limit.
Mentioning that the last date for submission of the option online for higher pension was May 3, the Trust advised prospective applicants to upload a copy of the letter, as acknowledged by the EPFO, while submitting their options.
Meanwhile, the CPI (M) Member of Parliament, John Brittas, wrote to Union Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav a week ago, highlighting the need for withdrawal of the stipulation of uploading the document in support of having exercised the joint option under para 26 (6), “a non-existing joint option.”
He also wanted the EPFO to simplify the procedure of application instead of making it “impossible, complicated and cumbersome.”