In a relief to six lakh firms and over five crore subscribers, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Wednesday deferred payment of March contributions till May 15 in view of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, which entered its 22nd day.
“Considering the unprecedented situation created by COVID-19 and lockdown announced by the Central Government from March 24, 2020 midnight onwards to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the due date for filing of Electronic Challan Cum Return (ECR) for wage month March, 2020 is extended up to May 15, 2020 for employers who have paid wages to their employees for March, 2020,” a Labour Ministry statement said. Follow LIVE Updates
While the due date for March contributions is usually April 15, a grace period of 30 days has been allowed to the establishments covered under EPF & MP Act. The employers have to declare the date of disbursement of wage for March, 2020 in the ECR for the month.
The statement further said that the decision was taken to support and provide relief to employers of establishments that have disbursed wages for March to its employees and an incentive to employers for wage payment to employees during COVID-19 pandemic.
The employers disbursing the wages for March, not only get relief of extension of due date for payment of EPF dues but also avoid liability of interest and penalty, if they remit on or before May 15, 2020.
Last week, EPFO said it had settled 1.37 lakh provident fund withdrawal claims worth Rs 280 crore to provide relief to subscribers during the lockdown.
The provision for a special withdrawal from the EPF scheme to fight Covid-19 pandemic was announced by the government last month. Under this provision, non-refundable withdrawal to the extent of the basic wages and dearness allowances for three months or up to 75 per cent of the amount standing to member’s credit in the EPF account, whichever is less, is provided.
In March, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the government would pay 24 per cent, including 12 per cent of the employers’ contribution and 12 per cent of the employees’ contribution, of the monthly EPF contribution for the next three months for workers earning below Rs 15,000 a month in establishments having upto 100 employees.
“This is estimated to have a financial outgo of around Rs 5,000 crore. This may benefit 80 lakh employees and expected to incentivise 4 lakh establishments,” she had said.
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