EPFO Circular - Mandatory seeding of Aadhar numbers for filing of ECR
Appeal to withdraw the circular about Mandatory seeding of Aadhar numbers for filing of ECR issued by EPFO
The EPFO vide its circular No. BKG-27/7/2020-G/Pt.file dt. 01-06-2021 has made Mandatory seeding of Aadhar numbers for filing of ECR as a pre-requisite for remitting PF contributions and uploading the ECR with effect from 1st June 2021.
It has come to our notice that the above mandate has created troubles for the poor employees and have created innumerable hardships for both employer and employee in availing the benefits under the PF Scheme.
AII have discussed the matter with the various employers and the employer associations and it has been resolved to write to your goodself to request for withdrawal of the above circular.
In the above background, AII humbly submit as under:-
- The Code on Social Security, 2020 (CoSS) has been notified on 29.09.2020. However, it is yet to be made enforceable. In the meantime, Section 142 of the Code has been made effective by the Central Government w.e.f. 03.05.2021. This section provides for establishing the identity of employee/person through Aadhar for availing of services, seeking benefits under the Code or rules/schemes framed under it.
- It is obvious that establishing identity through Aadhar can be mandatorily applicable only when benefits, services etc. are availed under that Code.
- Since other provisions of the CoSS 2020 including provisions related to the PF Scheme/benefits etc. are yet to be implemented, the requirement of Aadhar for availing benefits etc. (Section 142 of CoSS) under the existing PF Scheme may not be made mandatory, especially during these pandemic times.
- Recently, the ESI Corporation after seeking advice from the Ministry of Labour & Employment did not make linking of Aadhar numbers as a mandatory pre-requisite for availing the benefits. The office order dated 12/5/2021 by Sh. Madan Chaurasia, Under Secretary to GOI, MOLE has been issued after taking a holistic approach, giving a clear instructions that the requirement of Aadhar under section 142 of the Code on Social Security, 2020 may not be made mandatory for the time being and directed that "the requirement of Aadhar for availing benefits etc. under the existing ESI Act, 1948 may not be mandatory" and further directed that "No IP shall be denied any benefit under the existing ESI Act, 1948".
- On the Contrary the EPFO has issued orders dt. 01.06.2021 that has made Mandatory seeding of Aadhar numbers for filing of ECR as a pre-requisite for remitting PF contributions and uploading the ECR with effect from 1st June 2021. Copy enclosed.
- It is noted with concern that though the employer and employee both want to tag the Aadhar number with the UAN but due to various technical issues they become helpless. The EPFO is rejecting the ECR with the two different reasons:
- Error Aadhaar not verified against UAN. found on line numbers:
- Error Aadhaar not seeded against UAN. found on line numbers:
- We are highlighting the problem areas and request your goodself to kindly give a thoughtful consideration:
- There are cases, where the Aadhar data (name, date of birth, gender) mis-match with the EPFO database, thus Aadhaar number could not be seeded until the employee gets his details corrected either with Aadhar or with EPFO database.
- There are cases where Aadhar data needs to be updated, and the employee is required to visit nearest Aadhar center, but due to Lockdown restrictions, there are few Aadhar executive(s) sitting in banks and in many cases the Aadhar centers are not functioning as most of the areas are under lockdown restrictions.
- The UANs that were earlier seeded with Aadhar numbers were subsequently amended by the employee without informing his employer and has caught the employer on wrong foot. In such cases the employer is caught unaware about the data mis-match and the ECR is rejected by the EPFO with the reasons “Error Aadhaar not verified against UAN”.
- The EPFO Dashboard under the ‘Missing Details’ tab does not have functionality for the employers to identify cases where the employee has subsequent to seeding of Aadhar number with UAN has got their Aadhar details amended. The EPFO should come up with a functionality to identify cases where Aadhaar is not verified against UAN. Consequently, the employer is caught unaware while uploading the ECR that flashes the above error message.
- In cases, where the employee has amended his Aadhar data, he has to visit the PF Office for carrying out the corrections in EPFO Database w.r.t. his name, date of birth, gender etc. and the process of name correction and date of birth correction is cumbersome and the EPFO demands for at least three documents from the employee to support his claim. In many cases, it is found that in absence of third document, the employee’s data is not corrected by the EPFO.
- There are more peculiar cases of data mis-match where the on-line request for correction of name/DOB could not be filed with EPFO, as it would at least require a valid mobile number linked to UAN or Aadhar number seeded KYC with UAN. In absence of both, the on-line request could not be forwarded to EPFO. We have seen cases where the employee change his mobile number (that were earlier linked with UAN and Aadhar) and thus no OTP could be obtained and no corrections could be filed on-line.
- Even the procedure for changing the mobile number linked with UAN is arduous. In the absence of Aadhar number seeded with UAN, the employee has to approach the EPFO with a written request duly counter signed by the employer to link/update his mobile number with his own UAN and this process usually take weeks for updating.
- That due to the above challenges, the Aadhar number could not be seeded with UAN. It may not be incorrect to mention here that EPFO has issued instructions that in absence of UAN linked with Aadhar number, the employee won't be able to avail the benefits of PF.
- Instructions have Jeopardize the Employee’s interest and has also put the employer’s effort on back foot:
Recently, the Central Government has launched a scheme called Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY), to incentivize the employer for generating new employment. Under this scheme the wage month of September, 2020 has be taken as reference base of employees for the determining the eligibility of any establishment. To avail the benefit of this Scheme the employer have to employ, over and above the reference base, minimum two new employees (if the reference base of employee is less than or equal to 50) and minimum five new employees (if the reference base of employees is more than 50).
- We have come across cases where due to Aadhar data mis-match with UAN, the ECR of all the employees could not be uploaded in one go, and the employer is compelled to upload the ECR in respect of UAN seeded and verified with Aadhar numbers only. Consequently, the establishments become ineligible for ABRY and are forced out of the ABRY scheme and subsidy of ABRY is lost to both Employee and employer. Owing to the above anomaly, the employees (ABRY eligible) are forced to contribute their PF share that was otherwise to be remitted by the Central Government.
- Undue-hardships for the poor employees – A potential cause for UNEMPLOYMENT during this COVID-19 Pandemic situation:- The ground reality is that if the Aadhar data or EPFO Data is not matched, the ECR could not be uploaded and consequently the employers would be constrained to ask such employees to leave the employment.
- Migrant Workers are worst hit: The migrant workers who are returning back to workplace from their native village would be required to go back to their native places collect the supporting documents for carrying out the changes in the Aadhar data and/or in EPFO Data.
- Adverse impact on Concept of Ease of Doing Business: The above restrictions have adversely affected the policy of ease of doing business of the present Modi Government.
The circular issued by EPFO would practically disable the establishments in uploading the ECR in one go and would also lead to delayed PF remittances and loss of ABRY benefit. The possibility of denial of employment to the employees who are not having correct Aadhar numbers cannot be ruled out.
It is, therefore, requested that taking into account the reasons stated above and the hardships of employers and employees your goodself may be pleased to postpone the directives issued by the EPFO for at least 3 to 4 months, or until the situation comes back to normal times.
We earnestly believe that your honour would give a thoughtful consideration to our above submissions and would issue appropriate directions to withdraw the circular issued by EPFO.
Above appeal has been submitted by AII (Association of Industries & Institution) dated 2nd June 2021 to Ministry of Labour & Employment.
Courtesy: AII (Association of Industries & Institution)