New Delhi: Retirement fund body EPFO on Monday came out with a procedure to enable subscribers and their employers to jointly apply for higher pension under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS).
Earlier in November 2022, the Supreme Court had upheld Employees Pension (Amendment) Scheme 2014.
The EPS amendment of August 22, 2014 had raised the pensionable salary cap to Rs 15,000 a month from Rs 6,500 a month, and allowed members along with their employers to contribute 8.33 per cent of their actual salaries (if it exceeded the cap) towards the EPS.
In an office order, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) provided for dealing with the ‘Joint Option Form’ by field offices of the body.
EPFO stated that “a facility will be provided for which URL (unique resource location) will be informed shortly. Once received, the regional PF commissioner shall put adequate notice on the notice board and banners for wider public information”.
It provided that each application will be registered, digitally logged and the receipt number will be provided to the applicant.
It further stated that the office in-charge of the concerned regional provident fund office shall examine each case of joint option on higher salary and intimate the decision to the applicant through e-mail/post and later through SMS also.
It also provided that any grievance by the applicant can be registered on EPFiGMS (grievance portal) after submission of his joint option form and payment of due contributions, if any.
The order stated that these directions are being issued in compliance with the order of Supreme Court on November 4, 2022.
EPFO has asked its field offices to provide an option for higher pension to eligible subscribers in accordance with the Supreme Court order.
According to the EPFO circular on December 29, 2022 the central government has directed to implement the directions in the order.
The apex court had given all EPS members, as on September 1, 2014, six months to opt for the amended scheme.
The apex court in its order gave four more months to eligible subscribers to opt for higher pension under EPS-95.
The court had also struck down the requirement in the 2014 amendments mandating employee contribution of 1.16 per cent of the salary exceeding Rs 15,000 per month. This will facilitate the subscribers to contribute higher to the scheme and get enhanced benefits accordingly.
The EPFO circular had also provided for the higher pension option for those eligible subscribers who either contributed on actual wages higher than Rs 5,000 or Rs 6,500 per month prevalent threshold pensionable salary or exercised their option for higher pension or their request for higher pension was declined by EPFO authorities before the amendment to EPS-95 in 2014.
The eligible subscribers would have to apply jointly with their employer for the enhanced benefit in the application form prescribed by the commissioner and all other required documents like joint declaration etc.
An EPFO trustee K E Raghunathan who is representing employers, appreciated the issuance of the circular, which details on implementation of SC judgment, in spite of complexity, financial burden, and need for simplified procedure.
“Finally, it is a happy ending for all. I congratulate the EPFO officials and ministry for the circular with the able guidance and directive from hon’ble Union labour minister in ensuring a smile on the face of the senior citizens.