If you work in the organised sector, the following announcement may help to calm your nerves as you stay in lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced that the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) subscribers can now withdraw 75% of their Provident Fund balance or 3 months of wages, whichever lower, as a non-refundable advance. This could solve the liquidity woes of employees as they tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation.
The minister said this relaxation of EPF withdrawal norms would benefit 4.8 crore employees. Currently, employees are allowed to make non-refundable advances from their PF balance only for specified purposes like job loss, purchase or construction of a house, marriage, medical emergencies and education if they meet the prerequisite terms and conditions. According to the press briefing, this announcement will come in to effect from April 1, 2020.
In another announcement, the finance minister said the government would pay both the employees’ and employers’ EPF contribution for the next three months for subscribers employed with certain EPF-subscribed establishments amounting to 24% of their basic salary. This facility would only be extended to establishments that have up to 100 employees, 90% of whom earn less than Rs. 15,000.
These announcements were part of the slew of welfare measures taken by the Union government under the Rs. 1.7 lakh crore Gareeb Kalyan package to help the people of the country tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The other notable steps include Rs. 50 lakh insurance cover for each medical worker managing the health crisis, additional free grains to around 80 crore people through PDS, hike in MNREGA wages, ex-gratia Rs. 500 per month for the next three months in Women Jan Dhan accounts, free cylinders for the next three months for Women Ujjwala scheme beneficiaries, collateral-free loans for women self-help groups up to Rs. 20 lakh under Deen Dayal National Livelihood Mission among others.
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