Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
The Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (the "EPF Act") provides for the institution of provident funds, pension funds, and deposit-linked insurance funds for employees and applies to all establishments employing 20 or more persons or class of persons. An establishment to which the EPF Act applies shall continue to be governed by this Act, notwithstanding that the number of persons employed therein at any time falls below 20.
On account of 2014 Amendment to the said Act, The definition of "excluded employee" has been amended whereby the members drawing wages exceeding Rs 15,000 per month have been excluded from the provisions of the PF Scheme. Accordingly, the wage ceiling for an employee to be eligible for the PF Scheme has been increased from Rs 6,500 per month to Rs 15,000 per month. It further provides that every employee employed in or in connection with the work of a factory or other establishment is required to become a member of the Provident Fund.
The 2014 Amendment further lays down the following changes:
- New members (joining on or after 1 September 2014) drawing wages above Rs 15,000 per month shall not be eligible to voluntarily contribute to the Pension Scheme.
- The pensionable salary shall be calculated on the average monthly pay for the contribution period of the last 60 months (earlier 12 months) preceding the date of exit from the membership.
- The monthly pension for any existing or future member shall not be less than Rs 1,000 for the financial year 2014-2015.
- The contribution payable under the Insurance Scheme shall also be calculated on a monthly pay of Rs 15,000, instead of Rs 6,500.
- In the event of death of a member (on or after 1 September 2014), the assurance benefits available under the Insurance Scheme has been increased by twenty percent (20%) in addition to the already admissible benefits.
Contributions to the Provident Fund are to be made at the rate of 12% of the wages by the employers with the employee contributing an equal amount. The employee may voluntarily contribute a higher amount but the employer is not obliged to contribute more than the prescribed amount. Further, the EPF Act contains provisions for transfer of accumulations in case of change of employment.
In terms of power conferred under s 143(11) of the Companies Act, 2013, the Central Government has issued the Companies (Auditor's Report) Order, 2015 (CARO), which came into force on 10 April, 2015. Clause (vii) (a) of Paragraph 3 provides that:
The [Statutory] Auditor has to report, inter alia, on the following:
- Is the company regular in depositing undisputed statutory dues, eg, Provident Fund, Investor Education and Protection Fund, Employees' State Insurance, income tax, wealth tax, service tax, sales tax, customs duty, excise duty, cess and any other statutory duties with the appropriate authorities?
- If not paid regularly, the extent of the arrears of outstanding statutory dues as on the last day of the financial year concerned for a period of more than six months from the date they became payable, then it shall be indicated in the report.
- If such non-payment of dues is on account of any dispute, then the amount involved and for the forum where the dispute is pending should also be mentioned.
The CARO is, however, not applicable to a banking company, an insurance company, s 8 company, one person company, small companies and certain class of private companies, as specified under the CARO.
Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948
The Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 (the ESI Act) is a social welfare legislation enacted with the objective of providing certain benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity and employment injury. In terms of the provisions of the ESI Act, the eligible employees will receive medical relief, cash benefits, maternity benefits, pension to dependants of deceased workers and compensation for fatal or other injuries and diseases. It is applicable to establishments where 10 or more persons are employed. All employees, including casual, temporary or contract employees drawing wages less than Rs 15,000 per month, are covered under the ESI Act. This limit has been increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 w.e.f. May 1, 2010.
The Government enacted as the Employees' State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2010 (No.18 of 2010). All the provisions of the ESI (Amendment) Act 2010 (except s 18) have come into effect from June 1, 2010. The salient features of the ESI (Amendment) Act are as under:
- facilitating coverage of smaller factories;
- enhancing age limit of dependent children for eligibility to dependants benefit;
- extending medical benefit to dependant minor brother/sister in case of insured persons not having own family and whose parents are also not alive;
- streamlining the procedure for assessment of dues from defaulting employers;
- providing an Appellate Authority within the ESI Corporation against assessment to avoid unnecessary litigation;
- continuing medical benefit to insured persons retiring under VRS scheme or taking premature retirement;
- treating commuting accidents as employment injury;
- streamlining the procedure for grant of exemptions;
- third party participation in commissioning and running of the hospitals;
- opening of medical/ dental/ paramedical/ nursing colleges to improve quality of medical care;
- making an enabling provision for extending medical care to other beneficiaries against payment of user charges to facilitate providing of medical care from under utilised ESI Hospitals to the BPL families covered under the Rashtriya Swasthaya Bima Yojana introduced by the Ministry of Labour & Employment w.e.f. 1.4.2008;
- reducing duration of notice period for extension of the Act to new classes of establishments from six months to one month;
- empowering State Governments to set up autonomous Corporations for administering medical benefit in the States for bringing autonomy and efficiency in the working.
The employer should get his factory or establishment registered with the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) within 15 days after the Act becomes applicable to it, and obtain the employer's code number.
The employer is required to contribute at the rate of 4.75% of the wages paid/ payable in respect of every wage period. The employees are also required to contribute at the rate of 1.75% of their wages.
It is the responsibility of the employer to deposit such contributions (employer's and employees') in respect of all employees (including the contract labour) into the ESI account.
Labour Welfare Fund Act (of respective States)
The [State] Labour Welfare Fund Act provides for the constitution of the Labour Welfare Fund to promote and carry out various activities conducive to the welfare of labour in the State so as to ensure full and appropriate utilisation of the Fund.
Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (the Gratuity Act) applies to (i) every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port and railway company; (ii) every shop or establishment within the meaning of any law, for the time being in force, in relation to shops and establishments in a State, in which 10 or more persons are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months; and (iii) such other establishments or classes of establishments, in which 10 or more persons are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months, as the Central Government may, by notification, specify in this behalf.
The Gratuity Act provides for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments. The Gratuity Act enforces the payment of "gratuity", a reward for long service, as a statutory retiral benefit.
Every employee, who has completed continuous service of five years or more, irrespective of his wages, is entitled to receive gratuity upon termination of his employment, on account of (i) superannuation; or (ii) retirement; or (iii) death or disablement due to accident or disease. However, the completion of continuous service of five years shall not be necessary where the termination of employment of any employee is due to death or disablement.
The gratuity is payable even to an employee who resigns after completing at least five years of service.
The gratuity is payable at the rate of fifteen days wages for every year of completed service, subject to an aggregate amount of Rupees ten lacs only. However, if an employee has the right to receive higher gratuity under a contract or under an award, then the employee is entitled to get higher gratuity.
Sulekha Kaul, Principal Associate, Vaish Associates
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