The government has amended the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) scheme to allow subscribers to withdraw non-refundable advance from their corpus in view of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. In a statement on Sunday, the labour ministry notified the grant of permission to EPF members to withdraw up to 75 per cent of the employee's contribution to the corpus or the sum of basic wages and dearness allowance for a period of three months to ease the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The notification came days after the government eased provident fund rules to help salaried individuals endure the financial impact of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
The labour ministry said that the amendments to the EPF scheme came into force from March 28.
Retirement fund body EPFO or Employees' Provident Fund Organisation has issued directions to its field offices for promptly processing any applications received from EPF subscribers "to help them fight the situation", the labour ministry added.
The government has also decided to pay the EPF contribution on behalf of both the employer and the employee for next three months under certain conditions. This benefit will be only extended to organisations with up to 100 employees with 90 per cent of them earning less than Rs 15,000 per month.
Here's how one can apply for a provident fund (PF) withdrawal online:
1. The user is required to log in to the EPF scheme's member portal - unifiedportal-mem.epfindia.gov.in. This is to apply for either 75 per cent of the non-refundable advance component of an EPF account or three months of wages and dearness allowance, whichever is less.
2. Once logged in, the member has to select the claim form 31 under the online services section of the website. In the next step, the user is prompted to verify the last four digits of savings bank account number linked with the PF account and click on "proceed".
3. The EPF subscriber is redirected to a withdrawal form. On the next page, the member selects the "PF Advance" form (Form 31) from the dropdown next to the text "I want to apply for".
4. In the next step, the user selects the purpose for withdrawal. The EPF portal has introduced a new option, called "outbreak of pandemic (Covid-19)", in the dropdown menu.
5. In the next step, the EPF subscriber is asked to provide a scanned copy of a cheque clearly showing the IFSC code and the account number. Only images in the JPEG format and a size between 100 Kbs and 500 Kbs are accepted.
6, The user proceeds by agreeing to the self-declaration message.
7. The member submits the request by verifying the Aadhaar number through an OTP- or One Time Passcode-based method.
8. Once the request is made, the funds are credited to the EPF subscriber's savings account within three working days, according to the EPF members' portal.