The Centre is planning to significantly increase the capacity of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation and Employees’ State Insurance Organisation as it tries to bring in more informal sector workers into the ambit of the schemes.
To this end, the Union Labour Ministry is working on expanding the coverage of the ESIC scheme by including its coverage to all 744 districts across the country by the year end.
It is also working on a strategy to overhaul the EPFO with an eye on expanding its coverage, more focus on technology, roping in professionals and making it amongst the top five pension fund managers globally by 2047.
The issue will be taken up at the two-day National Labour Conference of Labour Ministers and Labour Secretaries of States/UTs scheduled on August 25 and 26 in Tirupati, which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a graded approach, it plans to provide EPFO coverage to at least of the 25 per cent informal workers by 2027, take it up to 75 per cent by 2032, and to 100 per cent of such workers by 2037.
At present, the EPFO covers 5.81 crore formal sector workers in establishments with 20 or more employees.
“There is a significant coverage gap in terms of both formal and informal sector workers. The objective now will be to expand its coverage into a universal scheme, covering all formal and informal sectors workers eventually,” said a source, adding that the administration and working of the EPFO will also be revamped.
An enabling provision has been made in the Social Security Code, 2020 to include self-employed and any other class of persons into the fold of social security coverage under EPFO and ESIC through formulation of schemes.
Further, with the implementation of the Code on Social Security, the Labour Ministry expects the number of insured persons under the ESIC scheme to increase by at least 20 per cent.
There are 3.8 crore insured person and over 12.5 crore total beneficiaries (including family member of insured person) under the ESI scheme run by the ESIC, at present.
“Even under the Chintan Shivir held earlier this month with Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav and ESIC officials, discussions were underway on how to improve and expand the working of the scheme,” another source noted, adding that work has also been underway to increase the number of beds and expand the OPD facility of ESI hospitals.
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