The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has come up with a new initiative of conducting online hearings through e-court. According to reports its software has also been prepared. This will help company and shareholders avoid visiting EPFO office during the ongoing pandemic.
In the first phase, the EPFO would take cases for not depositing the Provident Funds (PFs) of the companies and depositing the arrears of the PFs of the members. In the next phase, those cases will be heard where the claim settlement is not being done.
EPFO has started trial of software from Karnal, Haryana. Subsequently, it will be started in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Around 10,000 new and old cases are pending in UP.
According to EPFO officials, in the first phase, cases of 7A will be taken up in which non-submission of employees’ contribution and the defaulting companies will be heard. Simultaneously, cases of Section 14B and 7Q will be taken. Under these sections, if an employer makes payment of dues after the due date, he/she is liable to pay damages (under Section 14B) and interest (under section 7Q). So far, the EPFO used to send the notices to employers under Section 14B and Section 7Q against their belated payments.
In such cases, the bank account is seized by taking action against the EPFO companies for not depositing the contribution. Then the stock of employees is taken out and deposited. Thousands of such cases are pending across the country.
EPFO board member Sukhdev Prasad Mishra said that during the ongoing Covid pandemic, social distancing will be effective with the e-court system. Instead of coming to the EPFO for the hearing, the company’s lawyers, officials will settle the cases through video conferencing. This arrangement will be implemented in offices in UP in a phased manner.