The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) extended the deadline for mandatory linking the Aadhaar with the UAN (Universal Account Number) of an individual subscriber by three months, i.e. from 1st June 2021 to 1st September 2021.
The EPFO provided this extension through a circular on Tuesday due to the government’s request, keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic. It took this decision after the Union Labour Minister, Shri. Santosh Gangwar received various representations about the inconvenience faced by the EPF subscribers due to the prevailing pandemic.
The EPFO had stated earlier that only the members whose Aadhaar numbers are seeded and verified with the UANs would be allowed to file ECR (Electronic Challan cum Receipt or PF return) from 1st June 2021. However, with the extension in the date of implementation for filing ECR with the Aadhaar verified UANs to 1st September 2021, the employers will get more time to link their employees Aadhaar number with UAN or PF accounts.
The EPFO insisted on seeding and verifying the Aadhaar number with UAN for filing ECR. Thus, the details like date of birth, name, gender of the Aadhaar and UAN needed to match for paying the monthly EPF contributions. This decision prevented lakhs of workers, especially the low paid formal sector employees, from paying their monthly PF dues because of a mismatch in records.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) trade union affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wrote to the Union Labour Minister to reconsider the notification of validating Aadhaar with UAN for paying the EPF contributions. It urged the Union Labour Ministry that employers must be allowed to submit the PF dues without insisting on matching the details of the Aadhaar.
The BMS also stated that if the linking of the Aadhaar and UAN came into effect from 1st June 2021, it might result in the misappropriation of funds deducted from the employees. A gap in the contributions could hamper insurance eligibility and pension of the workers.
The EPFO decided to make the Aadhaar linking compulsory with UAN after the Labour Ministry issued a notification on 3rd May 2021. The Labour Ministry brought into effect Section 142 of the Social Security Code from 3rd May 2021. Section 142 mandated that the Ministry and its subordinate bodies seek the Aadhaar number from the beneficiaries to establish their identity under the Social Security Code.
The Labour Ministry specifically clarified on 5th May 2021 that the government only notified Section 142 of the Social Security Code. Further, since the other provisions had not yet come into effect, Aadhaar should not be made compulsory to pay PF dues.
Due to the government’s request and BMS letter for deferring the Aadhaar linking with UAN for filing ECR, the EPFO extended the Aadhaar linking until 1st September 2021. However, after 1st September 2021, the employers cannot remit PF for the beneficiaries whose Aadhaar is not linked with UAN.
With the deadline extension, the employers have time to ensure that their employees link the Aadhaar and UAN. The employers and field staff need to inform and advise their employees of the consequences of non-linking Aadhaar and UAN and guide them to complete their linking. The extension in the deadline provided by the EPFO from 1st June 2021 to 1st September 2021 will help many employees and ensure that there is no gap in their PF payments.