EPF benefits to be expedited | Sunday Observer
Amendment to Section 38 of EPF Act soon

EPF benefits to be expedited

20 September, 2020

Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that Section 38 of the EPF Act will be amended to enable Labour Tribunal presidents to hear the enforcement cases pending at the Magistrate’s Courts for several years to provide EPF benefits.

At present, there are many cases pending at the Magistrate’s Courts to recover the EPF and ETF benefits and the recovery process takes about two to three years, the Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

The Minister said if the case is called in the Magistrate’s Court today the next calling date will be between four to six months.

Therefore, special legislation will be introduced to give that power to Labour Tribunals to dispose of these cases quickly.

He said the beneficiaries need to go to the Labour Department regarding any of their EPF and ETF payments.

However, they have to wait for several months. Therefore, a special unit has been set up to look into such issues. Earlier, this special Unit was under the Labour Commissioner but that was not a success.

At present, it has been brought under the purview of the Labour Ministry Secretary so that it can entertain complaints on the delays and conduct an inquiry and provide redress to the beneficiary. At present, many applications are flowing into this special unit.

The Minister said if it is a disciplinary inquiry in the public sector, it should be concluded within six months but there is no such timeframe in the private sector. Therefore, the same methodology would be introduced to the private sector too. They can’t keep the employee at home by dragging the disciplinary inquiry.

The Minister said that he has directed the Commissioner of Labour to present a report on the complaints received regarding the arbitrary job cuts in workplaces due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have done that to assess the situation but we have permitted the employers to allow certain employees to work from home at half the salary, but they will be paid 50 percent of their salary. This has been introduced in certain areas and we would extend it to the tourism sector too.

At present, there are numerous inquiries with regard to the termination of employment. In terms of the current law, inquiries and judgements will be made providing redress to the people. If there are any arbitrary job cuts, such employees can complain to the termination unit at the Labour Department and we have appointed several legal officers to look into such cases.

Meanwhile, the Rs.1,000 pay hike had not yet been given to plantation workers. “ I will start a fresh initiative with the plantation companies and the trade unions to persuade the plantation sector to pay this Rs.1,000 daily wage. I will also recommend to the Government what remedial steps should be taken if they fail to do so.

He said according to the workmen’s compensation rules, in the event of a death of an employee, the employer should pay Rs.550,000 compensation which is not sufficient. We have decided to amend the workmen’s compensation rules and increase this compensation up to Rs.2 million.