Source | The Hindu : By Somesh Jha
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)’s central board of trustees (CBT) on Thursday decided to extend social security benefits to over 61 lakh unorganised workers.
“In an important decision, the Board recommended to the Central government to consider issuing a notification for extending social security benefits to the volunteers of various schemes workers i.e. anganwadi, ASHA, mid-day meal workers under the ambit of EPFO,” the EPFO said in a statement.
“This is a landmark step taken by the board of trustees. Trade unions have been demanding social security cover to the entire workforce and this is a step forward in that direction,” D. L. Sachdev, national secretary, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and member of the CBT said.
The EPFO had proposed to the Labour Ministry that a lower contributory rate of 10% of income towards the Employees’ Provident Fund be allowed for scheme workers as against 12% contribution stipulated for the organised workers. However, Mr. Sachdev said that the trade unions demanded that Central government and State governments pay for the employer’s share of contribution towards the EPFO for the scheme workers.
According to estimates, there are 14 lakh anganwadi workers, 12 lakh anganwadi helpers, 25.50 lakh mid-day meal workers and 10 lakh ASHA workers in the country.
There is no mandatory social security cover for such scheme workers at present. However, the Centre can issue a notification to cover any class of establishments with a lower contributory rate under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952. This will only be applicable to scheme workers in organisations employing at least 20 workers.