In a significant move towards rationalisation of provident fund withdrawal procedure, employees can now withdraw their provident fund money without employers’ permission. Until now, employees were also required to obtain prior approval from employers while withdrawing employees’ provident fund (EPF) corpus – an additional step which also lead to unwarranted delays. The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), vide its circular dated 1 December 2015 (No WSU/10(1)2011/Changes in MAP/31406), has notified this change with immediate effect.

Who can avail benefit from the circular?

This benefit can be availed by employees whose (i) details such as Aadhaar number and bank account number have been linked to the EPF universal account number (UAN) and (ii) know-your-customer (KYC) verification has been verified by the employer (using digital signature).

What are the further filings required to avail benefit?

Employees, upon linking their details (such as the Aadhaar number and bank account number) with the UAN and activation of the UAN, may submit claims in Form 19, Form 10C and Form 31 directly to the concerned regional provident fund commissioner without attestation of their employers, in a manner as may be specified by the central provident fund commissioner, for fast settlement of claims.

Challenges ahead

Even though the government had allowed EPF number portability through UAN (allocating a single PF number to an employee for the entire professional life, regardless of the employer), in the past one year, it is understood that not all EPF subscribers have activated their UAN on the EPFO portal for a variety of reasons. This has been largely attributed to a lack of awareness amongst the employee, pending KYC or lack of digital signature of the employer.

Comment

With this notification, employees can now avail themselves of a convenient and speedy withdrawal from the provident fund account. Employers should actively encourage their employees and take steps towards increasing awareness amongst them about the benefits of the newly introduced fast track withdrawal process. Increased employee participation through linking of details with UAN and adopting the new withdrawal process will eventually also result in seamless employee transitions with minimum administrative delays and employee disputes.