On a day (Sunday) when the Narendra Modi government completed its seven-year rule, the Ministry of Labour and Employment announced additional benefits for workers through social security schemes run by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These benefits include pension for dependents of insured ESIC persons, who died due to COVID-19 and hike in maximum sum assured under the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme(EDLI), run by EPFO, to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 6 lakh.

“The Ministry of Labour and Employment has announced additional benefits for workers through ESIC and EPFO schemes to address the fear and anxiety of workers about wellbeing of their family members due to increase in incidences of death due to COVID-19 pandemic,” a ministry statement said.

Enhanced social security is sought to be provided to the workers without any additional cost to the employer, it added.

Who will benefit?

“The additional social security benefits announced by Government are available for those who are covered under the Employee’ State Insurance Act 1948 (ESI Act) and Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (EPF Act). Employees whose monthly wages do not exceed Rs 21,000 are eligible to be covered under the ESI Act; monthly wage not exceeding Rs 15000 makes an employee eligible for coverage (unless already covered before monthly wage exceeded Rs 15000 and has not withdrawn membership) under EPFO,” said Pooja Ramchandani, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co.

Currently, for the insured persons (IPs) under the ESIC, after death or disablement of the IP due to employment injury, a pension equivalent to 90 per cent of average daily wage drawn by the worker is available to the spouse and widowed mother for life long and for children till they attain the age of 25 years.

The scheme will be effective for a period of two years from March 24, 2020. The ministry, under the EPFO’s EDLI scheme, has increased the maximum benefit to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 6 lakh to the family members of deceased employees. A minimum assurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh will be given to eligible family members of deceased employees, who were a member for a continuous period of 12 months in one or more establishments preceding their death in place of the existing provision of continuous employment in the same establishment for 12 months. It will benefit contractual/casual labourers who were losing out on benefits due to the condition of continuous one year in one establishment.