Bank ATM
Workers protest push new PF withdrawal norms to August 1. [Representational Image] Picture: A man counts money after withdrawing it from an ATM in Jammu Oct. 14, 2008.Reuters

The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation on Tuesday has postponed till July 31 the move that restricted withdrawal of employer's contribution to provident fund by an employee until 58 years of age or retirement, Press Trust of India reported. Workers across the country protested against the move introduced in February 2016.

An amendment to the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) Act to this effect has been kept on hold owing to repeated protests, the latest being the Tuesday's lathi-charging on the striking garment workers in Bengaluru.

Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya promised an all stake-holder meeting soon and said the first of it will be a meeting of the Central Board of Trustees. He added that it would help "to see how best the employers' contribution to EPF (3.67 per cent of basic wages) can be utilised for workers."

On Monday, the minister had announced certain relaxation in the rule. Purchase of house, serious illness, marriage and professional education of children were outlined as reasons strong enough for a complete withdrawal of the PF amount. The changes were referred to the law ministry for an approval.

The Times of India reported that the relaxation also extends to new joiners at central and state government enterprises who have subscribed to provident fund or old age pension schemes.

In February's notification, the EPFO had amended the EPF Scheme 1952 limiting various provisions relating to withdrawing of provident fund. The age limit for filing PF claims by retiring employees was raised to 58 years from 54 years. Another provision to restrict claimant who remained jobless for two months or more from withdrawing complete amount was reverted soon. 

Experts pointed out to PTI that the earlier clause of withdrawing at 54 years was relevant given establishments had employees retiring at 55 years and 56 years. But with growing trend of voluntary retirement both in private and public sector, the government move was cumbersome.