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Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019

EPFO to set up offices in J&K, offer hardship pay to officials

EPFO has internally sought applications to fill about half-a-dozen positions in J&K and Ladakh, which will have the status of Union Territories with effect from October 31, seeking to open two offices in the former and one in the latter.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2019 07:51 IST
Rajeev Jayaswal
Rajeev Jayaswal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A BSF jawan guards as Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel check the vehicles on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
A BSF jawan guards as Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel check the vehicles on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.(Photo: PTI)
         

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the retirement savings body that is set to open itsfirst offices in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh, has offered hardship allowances to officials willing to be posted in the two locations, three government officials said, requesting anonymity.

EPFO has internally sought applications to fill about half-a-dozen positions in J&K and Ladakh, which will have the status of Union Territories with effect from October 31, seeking to open two offices in the former and one in the latter. The offices in Jammu and Srinagar will be headed by a Grade-I level regional commissioner each and the one in Leh by a Grade-II level regional commissioner, the officials cited above said.

“As EPFO has to start its work in the two Union Territories and implement its practices and systems, it requires a small, but motivated team of staff, to move to the three locations [offices]. In order to incentivise prospective officials, besides a hardship allowance, the organisation has offered them to select their next posting after they serve J&K and Ladakh for one year,” one of the officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Spokespersons for EPFO and the ministry of labour and employment under which it functions did not respond to email queries.

The Centre in August reorganised Jammu & Kashmir, nullifying Article 370 of the Constitution that conferred special status on it, and Article 35A that reserved benefits such as government jobs and property ownership for people deemed to be its permanent citizens.

The state was also bifurcated into two Union Territories as part of a plan aimed at integrating them with the national mainstream and offering their people benefits available to citizens elsewhere in India. The central EPF Act, which provides pension benefits and a retirement savings fund, will be applicable to J&K and Ladakh with effect from October 31.

The retirement saving corpus of EPFO is expected to increase by over ~15,000 crore after the new Union Territories come under its social security ambit, Mint reported.

EPFO is governed by the Employees’ Provident Funds Act, 1952, which extended to the whole of India except J&K. Once the two Union Territories are created, the existing Jammu & Kashmir Employees Provident Fund Organisation will be subsumed by the EPFO, the second official said.

“We need to move our experienced staff to J&K and Ladakh to streamline activities. We [EPFO] have a very robust online system, which will be implemented in the two UTs. Full streamlining could take about a year,” the official said.

A third official, who works at the labour ministry, said, “The central government would ensure that the transition will be smooth without any job loss and any trouble to the existing subscribers of the two UTs. In fact, these subscribers will get several benefits, which were not available to them earlier. They will now be eligible for pensions also.”

According to the website of the J&K Employees Provident Fund Organisation, it covered 11,366 units with over 2.8 million subscribers working in both private and public sector organisations.

First Published: Sep 13, 2019 07:51 IST