Employees' Provident Fund Organisation

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), under Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India provides social security benefits to its members in terms of provident fund and old age pensions under Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (referred to as the Act hereafter), enacted by Parliament of India. The Act is applicable to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The EPFO, as on date, manages funds for and on behalf of the EPF member i.e. worker of specified industries under three different schemes, namely Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Employees’ Pension Fund (EPS) and Employee Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI). As per annual report of Tower Watson, which rates different pension funds across the world, EPFO is 12th largest sovereign Pension fund as on date, managing approximately $ 100 billion of Funds. In terms of the number of beneficiaries served, EPFO is arguably the largest sovereign pension fund of the world. The initiative ‘Universal Account Number (UAN) programme’ has been implemented to resolve the following problems which existed prior to its implementation:- (a) The EPF member was allotted one P.F. account number on joining each & every establishment. There was no common number allotted to a member to integrate the employment periods along with the statutory contributions for various Social Security Schemes with different establishments. (b) The EPF member could not be identified directly by the Organisation without the intervention of employer. This was because there was no process to register the identification of the member using his various “Know Your Customer” (KYC) documents i.e. Aadhaar (issued by Unique Identification Authority of India), Permanent Account Number (issued by Income Tax department, Government of India) etc. Even the bank account of member was not available with Organisation to provide service benefits to member directly. (c) As there was not a single P.F. account for various employment periods, the EPF member had to apply for transfer of funds on change of job from one establishment to other. The annual statements of accounts were earlier handed over to employers for distributing it amongst EPF members employed with them. (d) The EPF member could not get updated account details of all his employments at one place. Further those details were available to him only through his employer. The schemes managed by EPFO cover, as on date, 187 different type of specified industries/enterprises having 0.67 million of registered establishments (out of which more than 0.4 million are complying establishments) and around 87 million of enrolled employees (of which over 40 million are contributing members) spread all over India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus this initiative caters to the working class spread across various social and economic groups ranging from workers employed in Bidi industry, Building and construction industry to those in Hotels, Information Technology Companies.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
For the implementation of various schemes framed under the Act, there are three major stake holders in the process of management of funds – the Employee member (beneficiary worker), the Organization (EPFO) and the Employer (the intermediary). As per the provisions of the Act, every employer is required to deduct a specified amount of contribution from his employees’ salary and remit the same to EPFO under the three schemes viz., Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Employees’ Pension Fund (EPS) and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI), along with information pertaining to the number of employees in respect of whom the amount has been deducted, along with their names and respective amount so deducted. The member is identified with a PF Account Number for the accounting of his contributions received in the Organisation. As the PF Account Number of a member has been linked to his employer, it gets a new PF Account Number on change of employment leading to a number of issues as mentioned in response to A1 above. Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) proposed the solution for better service delivery to its member through Universal Account Number (UAN) Programme. The focus of the initiative was to allot a Universal Account Number to an EPF member, which would act as an umbrella number for his future employments. The said number has been allotted by the Organisation to the contributing members of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation. Using this facility, the problems as identified above in A1 have been addressed as below:- (a) The allotment of UAN as single account number would facilitate the EPF member to use the same number through all his employments with various establishments. (b) The facilities to upload “Know Your Customer (KYC)” details of various documents i.e. Aadhaar, Permanent Account Number etc. have been made available to the members and employers thus enabling the seeding the various authentifiable data to UAN database of members. This has enabled the Organisation to identify the EPF members directly without intervention of employer through the seeded details of various documents. (c) When an EPF member changes his job, he is required to inform his UAN to his new employer. The new employer furnishes the information through a portal and certifies the credentials of the member using the details of various documents seeded in the UAN database of member. This automatically tags the earlier and present employments and triggers the transfer process on its own. (d) A functionality has been provided to EPF member to register himself on the UAN portal. In the process his mobile number gets registered with EPFO. The member can check his updated account balance on the portal. The monthly receipt of contribution is also intimated through SMS to the registered mobile number thus enabling the less IT savvy members to get to know their updated balance through mobile governance.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative undertaken through UAN programme is creative and innovative due to following reasons:- (a) It has utilized the ecosystem of various e-governance initiatives of other government agencies i.e. UIDAI, Income tax department etc. for direct identification of members. This has facilitated direct services to member. (b) It has utilized the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for extending various service delivery mechanisms to members i.e. availability of updated balance through e-passbook available online directly to the member. (c) The seeding of UAN database of the EPF members has been implemented through electronic interface. Thus the time consuming and inherently inefficient process of data collection through field functionaries have been done away with. The field functionaries are to act as facilitators by interacting and training the employers. (d) The registrations of mobile numbers of the members, with due authentication through One – Time password (OTP) to the given mobile number, has facilitated the information dissemination of information through m-governance.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Organization has implemented the Universal Account Number (UAN) programme initially by allotting UAN to the contributing members of the fund. To make UAN effective and to link service delivery to the UAN it has been made necessary to seed UAN with various “Know Your Customer” (KYC) details to identify the EPF members directly. KYC details selected for the purpose are Aadhaar/NPR, PAN, bank account number and other KYC details i.e. election card, ration card, passport, driving license etc. The complete process of implementation has been sub-divided into the following four steps: (i) Allotment of UAN to all current contributing members: UAN has been allocated to all 41.7 million members who have made contribution to EPFO in any one of the six months from 1st January, 2014 to 30th June, 2014. All these UAN have been disseminated to respective employers through the Portal. (ii) Dissemination of UAN so allotted to individual contributing members: The employer can log on to Employer Portal to collect the UAN allotted to his employees and disseminate the same to them. The requisite printable format containing UAN and other details have also been provided on the Portal. (iii) Seeding of KYC against the UAN allotted to the individual members: A facility has been provided to the employer to seed the KYC details through the UAN Portal by uploading the text file in pre-defined format communicated to them in the User Manual. The employer has been advised to provide Aadhaar and PAN number wherever available and bank A/c number as part of the KYC detail as it will enable EPFO in future to provide services directly to the beneficiaries without intermediation of the employer. The KYC data is seeded against the UAN of the members upon receipt of this information through the facility provided. Also a facility has also been given to the individual member for uploading the data relating to KYC on UAN Portal through his individual log-in on member portal. The KYC so furnished by the individual is automatically captured in UAN database for seeding after its digital verification by employer. (iv) Activation of Member portal log-in by EPF members: To avail the benefits of UAN programme, the members have to activate the UAN member e-Sewa portal available on the EPFO website . The member obtains his UAN from his employer and activates the portal by furnishing his mobile number. A One Time Password (OTP) is sent to the given mobile number to complete the activation process. This authenticates the mobile number for information dissemination in respect of that member. The member can download dynamically changing UAN card and his updated passbook as and when required without any employer intervention. (v) Services provided to members: The launch of UAN programme has introduced the following features for the benefit of EPF members: (a) Portability of accounts linked with UAN. (b) Member balance details via updated member passbook. (c) Downloadable dynamic UAN card (d) Bulk SMS & e-mail service for multifarious services to member such as credit of monthly contribution and at other significant events. (vi) Handling of incremental membership: For new members joining an establishment, there are two possibilities: (a) The new member doesn’t have any previous P.F. membership. Such member is identified by the employer for allotment of Universal Account Number (UAN) by EPFO. (b) The new member has previous P.F. membership which is linked with present member ID through his Universal Account Number (UAN). There is an auto generation of transfer request in case the KYC details seeded with UAN are also approved by present employer using his Digital Signature Certificate registered with EPFO.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The stakeholders involved in the implementation of UAN programme are EPF members, employers and the field offices. The roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder are well defined and are presented below: (A) EPF members: To avail the benefits of UAN programme, the members have to activate his UAN member e-Sewa portal. The member can download dynamically changing UAN card and his updated passbook as and when required without any employer intervention. (B) Employers: The employers are expected to do the following activities: (i) Employers have to download the list of UANs allotted from Employer’s portal and disseminate the same to each individual member. (ii) Employers have to advise and guide the employees to activate their UAN on the UAN Member Portal. The benefits of such activation are to be clearly told / demonstrated to the employees. (iii) The employer is required to either declare previous employment details or First Time employment on the basis of Declaration Form submitted by each new member joining the establishment. (iv) Employer have to further compile, upload and approve KYC details in respect all employees in the establishment. This can be done by uploading bulk KYC by creating text file as per the structure mentioned in EPFO Website. (C) Field offices: The field offices are required to interact and train the employers and EPF members for completion of following activities: (i) The field offices have to ensure that the KYC details i.e. Bank Account, Aadhaar and PAN are seeded in UAN database of each member with due verification by employer. (ii) It should also be ensured that all the members activate their UAN based Member e-sewa accounts on EPFO website (iii) The list of all the new members joining an establishment has been made available to the employers to furnish their details for further action. Field offices have to monitor the same and have to sensitize the employer on the matter.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The entire initiative has been undertaken by EPFO using its own resourcing for planning and carrying out the back end processing for generation of Universal Account Numbers. The front end i.e. the portal have been got developed through Telecommunications Consultants India Limited, a Government of India enterprise. The financial implications for the entire project are summarized as below:- a) Development of portal: The portal has been got developed by Telecommunications Consultants India Limited, a Government of India enterprise at the cost of Indian Rupees 76,39,076 (including taxes). The maintenance charges for the portal activity are to the tune of Indian Rupees 2,45,788 per month. b) Data Hosting: The data centre for the UAN programme has been hired through Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, a Government of India enterprise. The recurring cost for data centre is Indian Rupees 54,51,752 per annum. The funding of the project is made by EPFO from its budget. The human & technical resources of the Organization have been used for the planning and implementation of the project. For testing purpose, 8 number of manpower have been outsourced by EPFO.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The concrete outputs from the implementation of UAN programme are as below:- a) This implementation of this project has ensured that the EPF member has been provided with single Account Number i.e. UAN which would act as umbrella number for all his employments with different establishments. b) The seeding of KYC details in the UAN database of member has been implemented with a view to identify the member directly without any intervention of employer. This has facilitated a number of direct services to the member. c) The process involved in the KYC seeding by employer also ensures that complete and clean data is available in respect of member. This is a key input for providing expeditious services to the members. d) The procedure adopted for this project has done away with paper filing of details by employer as all the details are to be uploaded by employer on the portal. In addition to saving on paper cost, thus resulting in eco-friendly solution, this has reduced a lot of potential mistakes due to re-entry of data in EPFO offices. e) The implementation of this project has provided a number of direct services to the member i.e. updated account balance through e-passbook, downloadable UAN card, SMS alerts to members on their mobile numbers about credit of their accounts etc. f) The availability of KYC details of the members has a potential to enlarge the scope of services significantly in near future.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Key elements for the success of the project are as follows:- a) Seeding of KYC details by employers in the UAN database of member. b) Declaration by employers about the first time employment or previous employment of member for generation of new UAN or tagging the services with existing UAN respectively. c) Activation of UAN based member portal by members. The information in respect of above is being monitored at the highest level i.e. by the Central Provident Fund Commissioner, who heads the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation. For monitoring of above activities, various dashboards have been developed and are placed on EPFO website for the information and for taking necessary action by the concerned functionaries. The list of dashboards, along with their utility, is explained below: (i) UAN-KYC Dashboard:- This dashboard has been designed to monitor the seeding of KYC details to the UAN database of EPF members. This also brings out the details of activation of UAN member portal by EPF members. This is a very detailed dashboard and provides the establishment-wise detailed status of the KYC seeding in UAN database. The dashboard is available on EPFO website under “For EPFO office use” and also directly at the link . (ii) UAN-KYC Missing Bank details dashboard:- Since the bank details of members are mandatory to be seeded to their UAN database, a detailed dashboard has been made available for monitoring the same on EPFO website under “For EPFO office use”. The dashboard is also available directly at the link . (iii) Dashboards for Monitoring the UAN activities for incremental Membership:- Whenever a new employee joins an establishment, he has to declare whether it is his first time employment or whether he was earlier EPF member. Based on this declaration by member to employer, the employer furnishes the information to EPFO through portal. If it is first time employment for member, then EPFO allots a new UAN to the member. If the member earlier EPF member, his services are tagged with the UAN allotted to him earlier. To monitor the progress, a dashboard (password protected) has been provided on EPFO website under “For EPFO office use”. The same is also available directly at the link .

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
As this was a new initiative and its success was totally dependent on the active participation by employers and EPF members. Further the training of the new processes was another area of concern. The magnitude of the challenge increased multifold as the numbers involved is huge. More than 41.7 million members have been allotted Universal Account Number and the employers involved in the process are numbered at around 0.4 million. These obstacles were to be handled in time bound manner as the project was to be implemented under strict time-lines. Following actions were taken to address the challenges as mentioned above:- (i) SMS/email campaigns were carried out to make the employers and members aware about this new initiative. (ii) The programme was launched by the Prime Minister of India, which attracted media coverage thus facilitating the spread of news to most of the geographical areas of the country. (iii) Training has been provided to master trainers for imparting training to the field offices and employers. Four master trainers from each of ten zones have been trained for the purpose. (iv) Updated user manuals and other materials to assist the employers to seed the Universal Account Number with KYC details have been made available on EPFO website. (v) User manual for members to activate the registration of UAN member portal to avail immediate services i.e. updated passbook, seeding of KYC etc. has been provided on EPFO website.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The major stakeholders in the EPF ecosystem are EPF members, Employers and the field offices of the Organisation. This initiative has directly benefitted all the stakeholders in the following ways: EPF members (i) The implementation of this project has ensured that the EPF member has been provided with single Account Number i.e. UAN which would act as umbrella Id for all his employments with different establishments. He can carry this number for his entire working life while being employed with different establishments. (ii) With the change in employment, the member has to simply submit his UAN to the new employer for tagging the present employment with his UAN. If the identification is digitally verified by the employer using the KYC details of member, the portability process is triggered and the member is not required to make further submission for transfer of his accumulations. (iii) The seeding of KYC details in the UAN database of member has been implemented with a view to identify the member directly without any intervention of employer. This has facilitated a number of direct services to the member. (iv) With the tagging of various services through UAN, the member can get to see his details of fund for all his tagged employments at one place on his member portal. (v) The process involved in the KYC seeding by employer also ensures that complete and clean data is available in respect of member. This is a Key input for providing expeditious services to the members. (vi) This technological intervention has also enabled a higher degree of interface and communication by way of emails and SMSs between the EPF member and EPFO. Enabling the members to avail online services by the Organization has gone a long way in enhancing member satisfaction. In this context, the introduction of web portal based services has been a resounding success with services such as instantaneous generation of e-passbook which is directly available to member without any intermediary i.e. employer - as was the case earlier. More than 1.8 million EPF members have already activated their UAN Member e-Sewa accounts. Web portal based query handling has also resulted in a significant reduction in visits by the members to the EPFO offices. The availability of KYC details of the members has a potential to enlarge the scope of services significantly in near future. Employers (i) The procedure adopted for this project has done away with paper filing of details by employer as all the details are to be uploaded by employer on the portal. This has resulted in saving on paper cost, thus resulting in eco-friendly solution (ii) The availability of facilities for online submission of information has reduced the visits of the employers to field offices thereby reducing avoidable burden on them. (iii) The technological intervention has also enabled a higher degree of interface and communication by way of emails and SMSs between the Employer and EPFO. Field Offices (i) For field offices, this project has facilitated the availability of clean and complete data essentially required to provide efficient services to the members. This was one of the major obstacles earlier in delivering expeditious services to the members. (ii) The reduction in terms of footfalls due to less visits by employers and EPFD members have provided the EPFO offices with sufficient time to focus on other important work areas. (iii) The online submission of information has provided the data directly in digital form thus avoiding the re-entry of data in EPFO offices resulting in less workload and reduced data entry mistakes. (iv) The access to information on E-mail IDs and mobile numbers of employers and EPF members has enabled the Organisation to approach these key stakeholders whenever required for effective implementation of other initiatives.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The life breath of the Project is itself its sustainability. However, in the event of any future change from a legislative perspective, the systems are capable of re-orienting and further adaptation. Sustainability can be viewed from three principal perspectives- (a) Process, (b) Manpower and (c) Technology. (a) Process: The process of filing of information is backed by the Act, Scheme and Manual provisions and as such, the facility would continue to remain in force till it encounters any legal amendment leading to a fundamental change in the Act which may redefine the basic role of the stake holders. (b) Manpower: Continued availability of competent and technically qualified manpower is ensured by way of undertaking extensive training programmes to the in-house technical personnel. Hiring of qualified and professional manpower from the open market also has brought in the much needed technical depth to the Organisation’s own technical staff. The non-technical users of the application software have also been made to undergo extensive ‘Train the trainers’ mode of training programmes which has ensured a continued process of training. The Organisation’s zonal training institutes also play an active role in extending periodic training. (c) Technology: The technology used for this initiative is open ended and robust. Right from the stage of initial development, care has been taken to ensure that the various application software remain non-monopolistic and remain open ended to ensure cross compatibility across various platforms. It has also been ensured that the Organisation would be never put at a disadvantage while integrating its applications and databases with other external systems such as UIDAI, PAN etc. Conceptually the solution provided is very simple. It has made use of the developments in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and recent changes in the ecosystem. The solution can easily be replicated to other Organisations with similar functional requirements.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
In the entire project implementation process the organization has learnt a number of lessons, which can be shared for implementation of projects of similar nature i.e. delivering the public service effectively and efficiently. The main lessons learnt in the process can be summarized as below:- (a) The successful implementation of the project has brought out the fact that employer, who is one of the key stakeholders, is very well conversant with technology aspects i.e. the use of Information and communication technology. The uploading of more than 3 crore KYC details itself indicate the acceptance of electronic mode of information submission by employers. (b) The process implementation has also strengthened the emerging view that the information submission through paper mode is not necessary from employer perspective. While the paper returns necessitate avoidable visits to field offices, the digitisation at the end of field offices also makes the data vulnerable for mistakes made during the data entry process. (c) The implementation could be carried out smoothly with the proper use of various training techniques, provision of user manuals and online support through help desks. As the target group constituted of more than 0.4 million employers employing around 41.7 million EPF members, the training was provided to trainers from field offices and they were accordingly deployed for training to employers. The user manuals were prepared in lucid language including screenshots for each process. Toll free number was provided to all for online support to the employers and EPF members for clarifications and resolution of problems. (d) The use of mobile governance has been another key aspect of this project. As the availability of internet may prove to be a hindrance for less IT savvy people, the provision of some services through mobile governance has ensured that the balance updates of EPF accumulations are in the knowledge of such EPF members, who have registered their mobile number with Employees Provident Fund Organisation.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Employees' Provident Fund Organisation
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   V. Ranganath
Title:   RPFC-I  
Telephone/ Fax:   911126163246
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Head Office, EPFO, 14, Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi
Postal Code:   110066
City:   New Delhi
State/Province:   Delhi

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