Several big educational groups and publishing houses working in Doaba have come under the scanner of the regional provident fund (PF) commissioner office here that have issued notices to the institutes which are doing manipulations to reduce the number of employees to be covered under the provisions of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.
According to an inquiry initiated by the regional PF commissioner, notices have been served to around 250 different institutions falling under Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahar districts, including CT Group of Institutes, St Soldier Group of Institutes, Cambridge Group, Mayor World School, Innocent Heart School, APG College in Jalandhar, Ramgarhia Group of Institutes and various schools and colleges coming under the Layalpur Khalsa College group.
As per documents available with Hindustan Times, notices have been served to these institutes for failing to comply with the August order of the PF regional office here that had directed all these groups to furnish details of all the employees getting salary over `6500 who have not been not made member of EPF scheme of the central government, along with the salary slips of all the employees working with them.
"Since they have failed to produce the required information till date, now these institutes have been given October 15 deadline to bring all the facts before the PF office inquiry officers with the salary slips of August month," states the fresh notice.
The notice states that non-production of the required records tantamounts to "candid contravention of the provisions of Section 14 of the EPF Act, 1952 that makes the institution owners liable for imprisonment which may be extended up to one year".
The chain of shops running under the brand name Lovely Sweet Shop and the publication house MBD Group is also under the scanner of the PF office and have been ordered to appear with the record.
Sources said these groups have manipulated the number of employees covered under the EPF scheme and were denying the EPF benefits to their employees. By reducing the number of employees coming under the EPF schemes, these groups were saving several lakhs of rupees per month.
In the preliminary investigations done by the EPF office, some glaring "manipulations" have been found. For instance, St Solider Group, which are having more than 45 schools and colleges across Punjab, has shown only 1500 employees which are being covered under the PF. Similarly, in MBD publication house, the number of such employees is very less. In Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Jalandhar, only four employees are coming under the PF scheme.
Regional provident fund commissioner Dheeraj Gupta said that during the recent routine inspections, certain discrepancies in the PF accounts of many big institutions have come to the fore.
"Since the central government is laying more thrust on facilitating employees in saving money, we have also been asked to check all the malpractices and manipulations done by the institutes and factories to discourage the employees from opening EPF accounts. We are ready to cooperate with the groups if they come out with sincere details. Otherwise, we would be compelled to take action," said Gupta.
He said the PF office has done its independent investigations and after these groups come out with their records, it would be matched with the actual facts.
In another letter written to various educational groups, the PF office has also ordered to cover the drivers of their institutional buses under EPF scheme.