(i) EPFO Issues Instructions for Joint Requests Under Employee Provident Fund Scheme, 1952
The EPFO issued a circular on June 2, 2023, providing instructions for the submission of joint requests under the EPF Scheme. The circular clarifies that employees whose monthly pay exceeds the statutory wage ceiling can voluntarily enroll in the EPF Scheme and contribute based on their actual higher pay. The circular outlines the process for making joint requests and specifies that employers must submit the requests digitally to the jurisdictional Regional Office. The Regional Office will process the applications promptly and notify both the employer and the employee within seven days regarding their eligibility for contributing based on actual higher pay or enrollment in the EPF Scheme. The circular also clarifies that the instructions apply to new employees enrolling in the scheme and existing members who may wish to contribute based on actual higher pay in the future. Existing members can submit the joint request and employer's undertaking at the time of final claim settlement if they are already contributing based on actual higher pay.
(ii) Computation of Pension Method – Filing of Applications for Validation of Option/Joint Option
The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has released a circular dated June 1, 2023 that explains the process for validating options and computing pensions. The circular covers various scenarios based on the date when the pension commences and emphasizes the significance of the average monthly pay received during the contributory period of service. It provides specific time frames for calculating pensions, which is important for individuals who are seeking validation of options and want to understand how their pension amount will be determined.
(iii) EPFO asks officials to stick to the timeline on joint option applications
On June 2, 2023, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) released a circular to emphasize that each application for the validation of a joint option will be thoroughly reviewed in a prompt manner. The circular also outlined that within 20 days of receiving the application, a demand letter or communication will be issued to the employer if any additional proof, evidence, or corrections are required for the validation of the joint option. This step was taken after the EPFO observed delays in issuing demand letters or communications for cases that were claimed to have been reviewed, as mentioned in the circular.
(iv) EPFO notified regarding the Applications for Validation of Option/ Joint Options – Proof of joint option duly verified by the employer and the list of admissible documents
The EPFO issued a circular on June 14, 2023, regarding the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment dated November 04, 2022, related to applications for the validation of options and joint options under the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 (“EPF Scheme”). The following procedure shall be followed namely:
(1) Field Offices will verify that:
a) Employer share of PF contribution has been remitted on employee's pay exceeding the prevalent statutory wage ceiling from the day the payment exceeded the wage ceiling or 16.11.95 whichever is later till date/ till the date of retirement or superannuation as the case may be
b) Administrative charges payable by the employer have been remitted on much higher wages.
c) Provident Fund account of the employee has been updated with interest as per EPFschemeon the basis of such contribution received, and
d) Any of the following documents have been submitted along with applications for validation of options / joint options as proof of joint option and permission.
(2) The applicants who qualify under the stipulations placed above and are already contributing/ have contributed till retirement/superannuation on actual (higher) pay, if they have not submitted their joint requests and undertaking of the employer, can submit the same at the time of final claim settlement through their last employer. Joint request and undertaking of employer for permission can be submitted by pensioners/members any time before the grant of pension on higher wages in accordance with the decision of Hon'ble Supreme Court.
(v) EPFO extended deadline for applying for higher pension for members
The Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) further extended the deadline for filing applications to opt for a higher pension until July 11. The EPFO stated that this addition extension aims to address any difficulties faced by eligible pensioners or members. The EPFO has also introduced an online facility for submitting applications for the validation of options or joint options for a higher pension based on higher wages. The timeline for submitting wage details of pensioners/members by the employers has been extended by three months till September 30, 2023.