38.71 lakh EPF members withdrew ₹44k crore since lockdown: Labour Minister

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that the withdrawals also include COVID-19 claims

As many as 38,71,664 employees provident fund (EPF) withdrawal claims worth ₹44,054.72 crore were settled since March 25, Parliament was informed on Monday.

The government had imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020, to contain deadly coronavirus.

“Total 38,71,664 EPF withdrawals claims from EPF accounts worth ₹44,054.72 crore were settled till date since lockdown was imposed (March 25 this year),” Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

These withdrawals also include COVID-19 claims, as per the reply.

The maximum amount of ₹8,968.45 crore EPF withdrawals from March 25 to August 31 were recorded in Maharasthra against 7,23,986 claims, followed by Karanataka – ₹ 6,418.52 crore for 4,84,114 claims and Tamil Nadu (including Puducherry) — ₹5,589.91 crore for 6,20,662 claims.

The total EPF withdrawals in Delhi during the period stood at ₹3,308.57 crore for 3,16,671 claims.

A non-refundable COVID advance from the EPF by amending the EPF Scheme, 1952 was unveiled earlier.

As part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana announced by the government to address COVID-19 situation, the EPF scheme was amended to provide for a non-refundable advance from the provident fund account of a member not exceeding the basic wages and dearness allowances of that member for three months or up to 75% of the amount standing to his credit in the EPF account, whichever is less.

In order to ameliorate hardship faced by the labourers due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic, various initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Labour and Employment as part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and Atmanirbhar Bharat.

These include payment of 12% employers’ share and 12% employees’ share under employees’ provident fund (EPF), totalling 24% by the government for six wage months from March to August 2020 for all the establishments having up to 100 employees with 90% of such employees earning less than ₹15,000 monthly wage.

Besides, the government also reduced EPF contribution from 12 per cent to 10 per cent of wages for the wage months of May, June and July 2020.

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