This decision is expected to bring some relief for MSMEs who are struggling to compensate their employees.
Currently, the employers are required to file provident fund (PF) returns and make payment of dues simultaneously.
The PF returns have details about employees’ and employers’ contributions towards the social security scheme run by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
During the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown, businesses are not able to function normally and are facing liquidity issues or cash crunch to pay their statutory dues even though they are retaining the employees on their rolls, according to a statement by the labour ministry.
Keeping in view the situation and to further ease the compliance procedure under the Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, the filing of monthly electronic challan-cum-return (ECR) is separated from payment of the statutory contributions reported in the ECR, it said.
Now onwards, the ECR can be filed by an employer without any need of simultaneous payment of contributions and contributions may be paid later by the employer after filing the ECR, it added.
The change will entail convenience to the employers as well as the employees covered under the Act.
Filing of ECR by the employer in time is indicative of the employer’s intent to comply with norms and will not therefore attract penal consequences if the dues are paid within the extended time as announced by the government.
Filing of ECR in time shall help in credit of employer’s and employee’s share of contributions, totalling 24 per cent of wages by the central government, to EPF accounts of low-wage earners in establishments eligible under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana package.
The current ECR data shall also help in policy planning and decision making for further relief to the businesses and EPF members adversely affected by the pandemic, it added.
Earlier this month, the EPFO extended the deadline for filing ECR and making payment of PF dues for the month of March till May 15.
The ECR and PF dues payments for March were due on April 15. Thereafter, the employers were to get 10 days’ grace period for compliance till April 25.