The Ministry of Labour and Employment on Sunday announced additional benefits for workers through social securities schemes run by the EPFO and the ESIC amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
These benefits include pension for dependents of insured persons with Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) who died due to COVID-19 and hike in maximum sum assured under the group insurance scheme Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI), run by Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (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 the well-being of their family members due to the 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.
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.
For the female child, the benefit is available till her marriage.
To support the families of IPs under the ESIC scheme, it has been decided that, all dependent family members of IPs who have been registered in the online portal of the ESIC prior to their diagnosis of COVID disease and subsequent death due to the disease, will be entitled to receive the same benefits and in the same scale as received by the dependents of insured persons who die as a result of employment injury, subject to two conditions, it explained.
First condition is that the IP must have been registered on the ESIC online portal at least three months prior to the diagnosis of COVID disease resulting in death.
Secondly, the IP must have been employed for wages and contributions for at least 78 days should have been paid or payable in respect of deceased IP during a period of one year immediately preceding the diagnosis of COVID disease resulting in death.
The IPs, who fulfil the eligibility conditions, and have died due to COVID disease, their dependents will be entitled to receive monthly payment at the rate of 90 percent of average daily wages of the insured person during their life.
The scheme will be effective for a period of two years from March 24, 2020.
Under the EPFO’s Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) scheme, all surviving dependent family members of the members of this scheme are eligible to avail benefits of EDLI in case of death in harness of the member.
At present under this scheme, the benefits extended in case of death of a worker are no requirement of minimum service for payment of Gratuity, family pension is paid as per provisions under EPF & MP Act, sickness benefit of 70 percent of wages for 91 days in a year is paid in the event of worker falling sick and not attending office.
A notification issued by the ministry has made certain amendments in the scheme.
Firstly, amount of maximum benefit has been increased from 6 lakh to 7 lakh to the family members of deceased employee.
Secondly, the minimum assurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh to eligible family members of deceased employees who was a member for a continuous period of 12 months in one or more establishments preceding his death in place of 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, the ministry explained.
The ministry has also restored provision of minimum 2.5 lakh compensation retrospectively, i.E., from 15th February 2020.
In the coming three years, the actuary has estimated that eligible family members will get an additional benefit of Rs 2,185 crore from EDLI fund in the years 2021-22 to 2023-24.
The number of claims on account of death under the scheme has been estimated to be about 50,000 families per year including an increase in claims taking into account estimated death of about 10,000 workers, which may occur due to Covid, it said.
These welfare measures will provide the much needed support to the families of workers who have died due to the COVID-19 disease and will protect them from financial hardships in these challenging times of pandemic, it said.