PRESENT INITIATIVES IN WORKING OF EPFO & ESIC
The profiles of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation are being changed towards greater accessibility and client satisfaction.
The EPFO extends to the entire country covering over 393824 establishments. At present, over 3.9 crore EPF Members and their families get benefits under the social security schemes administered by the EPFO. The total corpus of the EPF Scheme 1952, EDLI Scheme, 1976 and Employees Pension Scheme 1995 together amounts to about Rs.1,39,000 crores. Over the years, the volume of service rendered to subscribers as well as investments made, etc. by EPFO have grown manifold. With a view to provide better services to subscribers and employers, the organization has launched the Project RE-INVENTING EPF, INDIA since June, 2001. The prime objectives of this Project are to provide the subscribers better and efficient services, to help the employers by reducing the cost of compliance and to benefit the organization to register geometric growth in all fields. An important part of this Project is the allotment of the UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER-the SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER to the EPF subscribers, issuing of BUSINESS NUMBERS to the employers and Business Process Re-engineering.
The strategy for implementation has been evolved and the allotment of the Social Security Number has begun with the entire activity being carried out in smaller phases for effective data collection. The criteria considered for the allotment of SSN include the centralized control of Uniqueness, ensuring the least manual intervention during allotment and near 100% Uniqueness accuracy levels. The Social Security Number in a nutshell is a big effort towards solving the problem of providing social protection to migrant labour and to make the data base of EPFO adaptable to the present trend of high job mobility among workers.
The Employees State Insurance Scheme provides need based social security benefits to insured workers in the organized sector. As in the case of the EPFO, the ESIC has also taken up the daunting task of tailoring different benefit schemes for the needs of different worker groups. The scheme, which was first introduced at two centers in 1952 with an initial coverage of 1.20 lakh workers, today covers 71.59 lakh workers in about 678 centers in the country. It benefits about 310. 54 lakh beneficiaries including the family workers of the insured persons, across the country. The scheme is being gradually to cover new centers and steps are being taken for creation of requisite infrastructure for providing medical care to a larger number of insured persons and their families. While the cash benefits under the scheme are administered through a network of about 850 local offices and pay offices, medical care is provided through 141 ESI Hospitals, 43 ESI Annexes, 1451 ESI Dispensaries and 2789 Clinics of Insurance Medical Practitioners. The total number of medical officers under the Scheme is about 10,480.
There have been a number of new developments in the ESIS during the past five years. Each year, it is extended to new areas to cover additional employees. The new employees covered varied from 30,500 in 1998, 89030 in 2000 to 46430 till Jan., 2003. Low paid workers in receipt of daily wages up to Rs. 40/- have been exempted from payment of their share of contribution. Earlier this limit was Rs. 25/-. This measure has benefited about six lakh insured workers across the country. In order to provide relief to insured persons suffering from chronic and long term diseases, the list of diseases for which Sickness Benefit is available for an extended period up to two years at an enhanced rate of 70% of daily wages, was enlarged by adding four new diseases, keeping in view the international classification of disease profiles and the quantum of malignancies of some diseases which had come to light over the last few years. The contributory conditions for this benefit were also reduced from 183 days to 156 days in the two-year period preceding the diagnosis.
The ESIC has made plans to commission Model hospitals in each State. Thirteen States/ UTs have so far agreed, in principle, to hand over one hospital each to the ESIC for setting up of Model hospital. Two Hospitals have been earmarked for being developed for super speciality medical care in cardiology, i.e., Rohini at Delhi and Chinchwad in Maharashtra.
In order to improve the standard of medical care in the States, the amount reimbursable to the State Governments for running the medical care scheme has been increased to 87.5 % of Rs. 700 per capita with effect from 1.4.2003. The ESIC has formulated action plans for improving medical services under the ESI scheme with focus on modernization of hospitals by upgrading their emergency and diagnostic facilities, development of departments as per disease profiles, waste management, provision of intensive care services, revamping of grievance handling services, continuing education programme, computerization and upgradation of laboratories etc. The action plans have been in operation since 1998. The ESIC has also taken certain new initiatives to promote and popularize Indian Systems of Medicines (ISM) along with Yoga and have drawn up programmes for establishing these facilities in ESI hospitals and dispensaries in a phased manner.
SOCIAL SECURITY TO THE WORKERS IN THE ORGANIZED SECTOR
Social Security to the workers in the Organized Sector is provided through five Central Acts, namely, the ESI Act, the EPF & MP Act, the Workmens’ Compensation Act, the Maternity Benefit Act, and the Payment of Gratuity Act. In addition, there are a large number of welfare funds for certain specified segments of workers such as beedi workers, cine workers, construction workers etc.