The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, plans to get an image makeover.
In a communication issued to all its regional offices last week, the organisation invited suggestions for a catchy tagline that would help it reach out to the public.
The pension fund body is also contemplating appointing a brand ambassador who will encourage people to save the money acquired through the employees’ provident fund for retirement. “The idea is to take the brand to the people, so that they realise why it is important save provident fund money. After all, it’s social security for old age,” an EPFO official said.
The move comes in the wake of a violent protest by garment factory workers in Bengaluru against the EPFO’s decision to restrict provident fund withdrawals.
The labour ministry – in a notification issued in February – had restricted 100% withdrawal by members unemployed for two months or more. It stipulated that individuals would only be able to withdraw their contribution to the fund and the interest earned on it, not the employer’s contribution towards the same.
Every salaried individual contributes 12% of his/her pay to the Employees Provident Fund account, and employers match it from their end. The rules also barred subscribers from claiming their provident fund before turning 57.
The Bengaluru protest, however, forced the government to take a U-turn on the matter – cancelling the notification issued in February.
Labour ministry officials said that even though the move was well-intentioned, it failed to convince the people. “Our records show that a majority of over five crore EPFO subscribers withdraw their money while changing jobs. That should not be the case. It should be saved for retirement,” an official said.
The EPFO hopes that adopting a tagline and brand ambassador will help take its message to the people and make provident fund savings popular.