The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), has been striving to ensure timely and effective delivery of service to its subscribers. Even during the lockdown, this statutory body under the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, managed to settle an overwhelming 36.02 lakh claims. By launching its first fully automatic claim settlement system in a record time of just five days, EPFO disbursed a whopping Rs 11,540 crore to its members in April-May this year. Of the total 15.54 lakh claims, Rs. 4580 crore was disbursed to claimants under the recently-introduced COVID-19 advance, as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).
The effectiveness of EPFO in disbursing claims is highlighted by the fact that the offices worked with less than half the normal staff, in keeping with the social distancing norms. When it came to COVID-19 advances, despite the shortage of manpower, EPFO was able to settle claims within three days, instead of the usual 10 days. Also, compared to the 33.75 lakh claims settled in April-May last year, a total of 36.02 lakh claims were settled in April-May this year. This shows over 100 per cent increase in productivity. In addition to the commitment of the staff, it was the use of artificial intelligence that helped speed up claim settlement. Almost 54 per cent of the COVID 19 claims are now being settled through the fully automatic system.
The COVID-19 advance brought relief to EPFO members who earn less than Rs 15,000 per month. An advance was given to such members, in the form of basic wages and DA for three months or up to 75 per cent of the amount available in their EPF accounts, whichever is less.
Not surprisingly, over 74 per cent of the total claimants during the lockdown period belonged to the category of those earning less than Rs.15,000 per month in wages. Those earning over Rs 50,000 made up about two per cent of the claimants. About 24 per cent of the claims were made by members with wages in the Rs.15,000 to less than Rs.50,000 range.
Automation and the dedication of its workforce are responsible for EPFO settling over 80,000 claims daily.