A division Bench of the High Court of Kerala on Friday nullified the amendments made to the Employees’ Pension Scheme in 2014. The Bench, comprising Justices Surendra Mohan and A M Babu, acted upon as many as 507 petitions filed by various organisations and individuals challenging the Employees’ Pension (Amendment) Scheme of 2014.
In September, 2014, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had brought in major amendments to the EPS. Accordingly, new employees who earned more than the capped wages would not be eligible for EPS. Existing employees who were contributing on higher salary could continue to do so provided they made fresh applications along with the employer in a year’s time, failing which their contributions would be restricted to the capped wages. Besides, for employees who were contributing on capped wages, the option to increase the contributions was no longer available.
Allowing the petitions, the court nullified the EPFO order declining to grant opportunities to the petitioners to exercise a joint option to remit contributions to the EPS on the basis of actual salaries drawn by them. As per the court directive, the employees would be eligible to exercise the option demanded by the scheme without being restricted in doing so by the insistence on the date.
In 2014, the Centre had announced the increase of the statutory wage ceiling from the then existing level of Rs 6,500 per month to Rs 15,000 per month as well as the payment of a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month for all members of the pension scheme. Subsequently, the Ministry of Labour & Employment, had brought out notifications and made amendments to the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952, Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995 and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976 effective from September 1, 2014.