Thursday, 12 May 2016

What is One employee-one EPF account?

This Labour Day, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) launched a new facility, One employee-one EPF account, to help employees consolidate their past EPF accounts. They can do this by transferring their money from the previous accounts into the current EPF account that’s linked to the Universal Account Number (UAN). This effort will not only consolidate EPF accounts, but will also bring relief to employees who have multiple accounts. “We have about 150 million EPFaccounts, of which only 40 million are active. About 90 million are inoperative accounts, and the rest are on their way to becoming inoperative,” said V.P. Joy, central provident fund commissioner, EPFO. “EPF is a long-term social security scheme and so employees need to have a single account that can be kept through the course of their working life. The drive will help us de-duplicate the multiple accounts,” he added.

This scheme helps you transfer your money; it doesn’t automatically merge different accounts into one. This is because EPFO has a decentralised system as of now, so the EPF accounts are handled by different regional PF offices. “We have about 123 offices and the data is scattered among these offices in their respective servers. Every time a transfer takes place, the data travels from one server to another. But once we centralise our accounts, there will be no need of a transfer. We hope to have a centralised system in two months,” said Joy.

To help you transfer money from past accounts, EPFO will actively assist you through the One employee-one EPF account drive. Here’s how it will work.

What you need to do

To start with, you need an activated UAN (which means that EPF authorities have your registered mobile phone number) and the PF number linked to the UAN in which you want to transfer the money. Even as you have UAN, which stays throughout your working life and can be the single number to recognise you, EPFO has not done away with the employer-linked PF number. Therefore, along with your UAN, you will also get a PF number, which is alphanumeric. The first two entries indicate the regional PF office in which your company contributes your money. The next entry will be in digits. This will be the employer’s code, followed by the employee’s account number.

Go to the EPF website at http://www.epfindia.com and click on the employees section under services. One employee-one EPF account will appear at the bottom. Fill your UAN, registered mobile number and PF account number. A one-time password (OTP) will be sent for verification to your phone. The next page will ask you for details of your past PF numbers that need to be transferred. Currently, you can fill up to 10 past PF numbers. Once you fill in this information, the PF account numbers will go to the respective regional PF offices to be processed.

“If your UAN is seeded with Aadhaar, it becomes easy for the EPF office to verify you. It will then capture your details and send these to the previous employer for verification. If all the details match, the money will get transferred. The employee will be informed through SMS on the registered mobile number,” said Joy.

But what if UAN does not have Aadhaar? “The EPF office can then call the employees and ask them to furnish proofs. They can also assist the employees in getting their money transferred using the online portal. We are hoping that the money will get transferred within a couple of months through the One-employee-one-EPF account drive,” said Joy.

You can also get your money transferred online through the Online Transfer Claim Portal (OTCP). By using OTCP, your transfer request gets logged with the EPFO immediately, though it still needs to be attested by either of the employers, past or current. The process is quicker if you choose the previous employer for attestation.

The biggest benefit, however, is that your request is in the EPF system and can be actively tracked. Read more about OTCP here: http://bit.ly/24I3ese .

The conventional route to transfer is by approaching the employer yourself. But this can be time consuming. Till UAN was started, the EPFO didn’t recognise the employee but only the employer. This also meant that any request, whether to withdraw money or transfer, had to be routed through the employer. The employer, after attesting your details, would submit the forms with EPFO. But with UAN, especially when Aadhaar is the primary identifier, EPFO is actively taking steps to do away with the need for an employer’s intervention.

De-link the employer

For UAN-linked accounts, transfers are automatic. This means that the next time you change your job, you just need to submit your UAN to the new employer, who will then verify the know-your-customer (KYC) details and open a PF account linked to the UAN. Money from the previous account will get transferred automatically.

Further, efforts are being made to de-link the employer by using Aadhaar as the primary identifier for KYC and verification purposes. In a notification dated 4 December 2015, EPFO said that for UAN-linked PF accounts, there was no need for employer’s attestation for withdrawals. Some UAN-based forms have been introduced, the circular stated. Form 19 deals with complete withdrawal, Form 10C is for pension fund scheme certificate to retain membership of Employees’ Pension Scheme or to claim withdrawals, and Form 31 deals with advances and partial withdrawals.

According to the circular, an employee can submit these forms directly to her regional PF offices, provided the UAN has Aadhaar and bank account number. The UAN needs to be digitally signed by the employer, which happens when KYC details are being seeded in it. You will also need to submit a cancelled cheque, with your name (the employee’s name), bank account number and IFSC (Indian Financial System Code). In such cases, you don’t need to route the withdrawal request through the employer.

“This is a good step as it will help employees get in touch with EPF authorities directly. This cuts (out) a big time consuming step from the entire process. Often, people who have migrated abroad have a tough time getting in touch with their employer and routing the withdrawal request through them,” said Sonu Iyer, partner and leader-India region, people advisory services, EY.

According to an EPFO press release, as on 25 April, 67.7 million UANs have been issued. Aadhaar has been uploaded against 13 million UANs, of which 10.3 million Aadhaar have been digitally authenticated by various establishments.

But for now the process is offline. “In about five months, we want to offer all kinds of services online to employees. This is possible through UAN seeded with Aadhaar for verification. The UAN will be like a bank account. It will not only show you the EPF balance, but will also show you your entitlements (for example, how much can be availed as a loan). It will also allow you to request for withdrawals or advances,” said Joy.

EPFO is actively trying to reach employees by de-linking the employer from the system. If you have multiple PF accounts, then make use of the One employee-one EPF account drive to get your money transferred. You can also do this yourself through OTCP. Do write in to us with your experience.

SOURCE - livemint .com