The Parliamentary Panel on Labour has been proposing that the eligibility criteria —in terms of minimum number of employees and wages — for availing Employees State Insurance (ESI) and Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) be removed, so that migrant workers can also benefit from these self-financing welfare schemes.
The panel has suggested that the coverage of the schemes be extended to include migrants working in the unorganised sector, so that they too can benefit from social security
The insurance scheme allows employees, who earn up to Rs 21,000 a month to contribute 1.75 per cent towards ESI, while the employer contributes 4.75 per cent. The insurance can be availed by firms with a minimum of 10 or more employees.
Similarly, EPF can be subscribed to by firms with at least 20 or more employees, with monthly earning of less than Rs 15,000. As per this scheme, employers pay 12 per cent of basic wages and the employee pays an equal amount as contribution. The total amount is deposited in an account on which the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) pays a fixed quarterly interest.
The objective of the proposal is to ensure that workers in the unorganised sector enjoy more social security, as the lockdown has taught a lesson. The panel, therefore, proposes that the minimum limit of workers and wages for eligibility of ESI and EPF be eliminated.