EPFO to enhance insurance benefits 30 times the monthly wage

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Facing tough competition from the National Pension System (NPS), the Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has proposed to increase the insurance benefits under Employee's Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) to 30 times the monthly wage as against 24 times.

After decades of wielding a monopoly over the retirement funds of workers in the organised sector, the EPFO is worried it could lose subscribers to the NPS, which has been offering better returns in the last few years—as much as 20% versus 8.75%, reported the Economic Times.

Central Provident Fund Commissioner KK Jalan told the financial daily: "EPFO is exploring various options to incentivise its subscribers to keep money in Provident Fund (PF) accounts."

Currently, EDLI subscribers with over a year of service get 20 times the average monthly wage of the preceding 12 months along with a 20% bonus. At a monthly wage of Rs 15,000, this takes the total benefit under the scheme to Rs 3.6 lakh.

If the proposal goes through, this will rise to Rs 5.5 lakh, including 30 times the average monthly wage and the average balance in the PF account in the preceding 12 months along with a 20% bonus.

At a monthly wage of Rs 15,000, this takes the total benefit under the scheme to Rs 3.6 lakh. If the proposal goes through, this will rise to Rs 5.5 lakh, including 30 times the average monthly wage and the average balance in the PF account in the preceding 12 months subject to a ceiling of Rs 1 lakh.

Jalan said the proposal is pending with the labour ministry, which will take a call after stakeholder consultation. EDLI, which is applicable to all factories and establishments covered by the Provident Fund Act, provides for a lump sum payment to the nominated beneficiary in the event of the subscriber's death due to natural causes, illness or accident.

It is entirely funded by the employer, which contributes 0.5% of monthly basic pay (capped at a maximum of Rs 15,000) as premium for life cover in case the organization does not have a group insurance scheme for its employees.

A total of Rs 697.7 crore was contributed under the scheme in FY14 and claims worth Rs 152.6 crore were settled. It is estimated that out of 4.5 crore EPFO subscribers, about 80 lakh opt for other private group insurance plans after seeking exemption from EDLI.

Improving the attractiveness of the PF and similar schemes under the law governing them has become a key challenge for the EPFO. Especially, as the government has decided to give formal sector workers a choice between EPFO and NPS.

(Image: Indiatimes)

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