Delay in the deposit of Employer Provident Fund during Lockdown will not levy any penalty
On Friday, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) voted not to penalize employers for default in the deposit of the Provident Fund (PF) payments during the lockdown. It also clarified that companies would benefit from a lower contribution regime for EPF, as announced by FM.
In view of the protracted lockdown announced by the Government to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and other disruptions caused by the Pandemic situation, the establishments covered by the EPF & MP Act, 1952, are in distress and are not in a position to operate normally. If an agency has filed its returns, known as the ECR, the EPF contributions to workers must always be sent in one go. Not doing so is drawing a punishment
The Hon’ble Apex Court of India in McLeod Russel India Limited Vs. RPFC (2014)15 SCC 263 has underscored the specific outlines and basic elements of section 14B of the Act and held the mens rea or guilty state of mind of the employer. Is a sine quannon for inducing claims under section 14B. In other words, the provisions of section 14B would only be drawn if there is positive signs of men’s rea on the part of the employer when defaulting on timely remittances. This legal status was later reaffirmed by the Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner vs. the Management of RSL Textiles. CA 96-97 of 2017)
In view of the difficulties faced by establishments in depositing contributions in good time during the lock-up period due to operational and economic reasons, it is clear that such delays are without men’s reassertion of the employer. Thus, the delay in the deposit of contributions during the lock-down period announced under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 can not be attributed to any guilty state of mind of the employer and will therefore not be subject to the provisions of section 14B of the EPF Act.
Therefore, for any omission in the payment of any contributions or administrative charges due during one of those times of the lock-up. Of these cases, no proceeding for the recovery of compensatory damages will be initiated.
EPFO Update :
EPFO (Employees Provident Fund Organisation) has fixed interest rate at 8.15 percentage for FY 2022-2023 as per the New press release issued by Employees Provident Fund Organisation Dept. on March 28, 2023.
Post by Rajput Jain & Associates