Who Specifically is an International Worker?
An international worker could be either an Indian or a foreign national. Therefore, this category includes any individual who fulfills any of the following criteria
- Any Indian worker serving or worked briefly in a country with which India has a Social Security Agreement (SSA); OR
- Any foreigner is operating in India in such an institution in which the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 is relevant.
Who Qualifies As An “Excluded Employee” In Accordance With The Previously Mentioned Provisions?
A detached International Worker who contributes to the social security scheme of the country of origin and is entitled to be so by a Detachment Credential for a particular timeframe as well as in compliance with the bilateral SSA endorsed between that country and India is regarded as an ‘excluded employee’ under these specifications.
What is The Protocol for Withdrawing EPF Funds?
Under the circumstance where you are qualifying for a provident fund from your job, you could remove the funds in your EPF account prior to actually going to another country and completely closing it.
And while a consumer is only entitled to receive the whole payment unless he or she reaches a certain age of 58 or retires, those who intend to quit their job in India and move to a different country may still deduct the whole quantity.
It is better to get it done before going overseas, and in case no funds are available to the account for three consecutive years, the account would be called unfit for purpose.
The protocol for withdrawing PF from an international worker is much the same as a local Indian staff member. Therefore, they should send EPF composite claim required documents to their regional EPF office through their manager, either online or in person.
The EPF balance of the claim will be credited into the savings accounts of EPF International staff. With the help of the EPF balance check on mobile number option, one can check their balance from time to time.
There are three Possibilities for Obtaining a Withdrawal
- The EPF withdrawal form can be received from the manager or downloaded from the EPFO website and consequently sent to a PF office.
- In case your UAN (Universal Account Number) is registered to Aadhaar, you can make withdrawals of funds online using the Aadhaar-based withdrawal form.
- You may register for a withdrawal through the use of the online platform.
Consequently, in advance, to minimize the chances of adding to other social security schemes in foreign countries, migrant staff members must attach a COC to the department in charge of that country’s social welfare system.
What is a ‘Certificate of Coverage’, Commonly Identified as a ‘CoC’?
Personnel who are sent to a country with which India has signed an operating Social Security Agreement are exempted from contributing to social security schemes in the other country (country in question) if a CoC is gained from the EPFO.
This exemption incentive excludes the need to participate in social security in both India and the other country, saving time and money for both the employee and the company.
But nevertheless, in order to earn such a CoC in India, the employee’s Indian provident fund contributions must proceed all through the time of appointment.
As of now, India has operational Social Security Agreements with the accompanying 18 nations:
- South Korea
- Czech Republic
As explained earlier, workers or contractors who choose to isolate themselves from paying to social security plans should petition for CoC using the updated application portal.
Many Indian workers who have travelled overseas to the job have benefitted immensely from the Social Security Agreements that India has negotiated with different parts of the world.
The CoC is Obtained In A Step-By-Step Method
Step 1: The claimant must first go to the EPFO website’s Main Website, which is www.epfindia.gov.in.
Step 2: Upon signing in, the claimant must choose the International Workers Portal option from the ONLINE SERVICES drop-down list.
Step 3: Individuals must now log in with their appropriate DA credentials.
Step 4: The claimant first should enlist their UAN (Universal Account Number). They will receive their PF number instantly after submitting their UAN number. They now must press on their PF member ID.
Step 5: After appropriately providing every one of the particulars, the candidate must now tap on the “Submit” icon.
Step 6: Upon processing the application, a reference number will be provided, and the pre-filled application will be available for free download and printing.
Step 7: Save the application to your system and print it. Sign the paperwork and upload a copy of one’s passport with it.
Step 8: Go to the international workers portal and select ‘UPLOAD SIGNED APPLICATION FOR COC’ to post the authorized form.
The Corresponding Employer Must Take The Following Steps
Just after the employee has submitted the validated form, the employer must perform the following actions:
Step 1: They must first visit the international workers portal and logging in with the same usernames and passwords they used with the Unified Portal (Employer).
Step 2: They would then click ‘Certificate of Coverage’ from the ‘Application’ link.
Step 3: They would then need to Choose the necessary Reference Number to have the employee download the signed document, validate all of the information, and approve/reject the request.
Step 4: After the application has been accepted, they must obtain the employee-signed form. To download, they should go to the ‘Downloads’ tab and click ‘Signed applications members.’
Step 5: They must therefore download the uploaded application and signature, date, and stamp it in the correct place.
Step 6: They then would download the document that has been authenticated and stamped. They will have to choose ‘Signed applications employers’ again from the ‘Upload’ category to upload.
When the signed copy of the form is downloaded, the corresponding PF office will process it and build the CoC.
Both the management and the staff will evaluate the status of the request from the international worker’s database by picking ‘TRACK APPLICATION FOR COC’ and accessing the employee’s application reference number and date of birth.
Certificates of Coverage are given to beneficiaries of Social Security Schemes who EPFO has not administered
EPFO permitted the allotment of Certificates of Coverage to beneficiaries of Social Security Schemes that EPFO did not manage on February 5, 2019.
But nevertheless, this step is executed manually and not through the online mode and ends up costing Rs 10,000.
Problems Faced in the Previous Method Of Accessing the CoC
Previously, the application for CoC was configured by uploading the necessary information to the EPFO’s official database. The entered content was then transmitted to PDF.
The printed version of the form, authorized by both the employee and the manager, had to be physically shipped to the PF office, together with the appropriate documentation.
After the concerned officials reviewed the application, the PF office sent out a written CoC to the company.
The previous method led to uncertainty throughout the whole process in light of the fact that:
Lag in registering because the application should have been sent as a printed version to the Provident fund department;
Error invalidation because the PF office had to evaluate the result with existing records; and Lag in providing the CoC because the PF office used to ship it by courier.
In addition, separate regional PF offices had different documentation specifications that would have to be presented again with CoC prescribed format.
Benefits of the Current Method
The request can now be filed efficiently by either the individual or the organization, thanks to the current digital mechanism.
The submission is sent in a timely manner to the PF office, and the CoC is also delivered electronically.
Besides this, perhaps the only paperwork required in conjunction with the CoC employment application is a copy of the individual employee’s passport.
The data submitted via the online tool is automatically transmitted to CoC, without the need to submit the data into the database manually.
The method decreases the waiting period, eradicates CoC failures, and generates the CoC in three business days.
Possible Prospects for Development And Progress Of The Entire System Of Obtaining the CoC
The only disadvantage with such an electronic CoC mechanism is the requirement for the manager and the employees to access, download, print and consequently sign the document in the physical copy before posting the authenticated document to the server. The utilization of Digital Signature will save the hour of both the workers and businesses.
This will dispense with the need to print the application, manually sign it, and afterward again transfer it for additional handling.
It would likewise be beneficial to have the option of authenticating the application via text message or Aadhaar-based verification.
For a legitimate and faster way of confirmation, the responsible party may set up an SMS notification service.
For illustration, authorizing the form may be streamlined by testing it through SMS or email. It would also ensure the process’s safety and well being of the entire cycle.
The utilization of Chatbots will be beneficial to first-time users who are inexperienced with the website.
This will assist them in navigating the multiple parameters and advances involved in implementing their query.
Additionally, for the situation where there are any problems when processing information, at that instance, the chatbot can serve as a real-time guide to fix the case, and the difficulties faced.
Relevance of the CoC in the Long Run
It is a significant step to make things easier to extend social security benefits augmented by the government throughout the specified period of time under the relevant SSA.
Extended content management programmes, in general, necessarily require skilled resources for an extended period of time, and the provision of social security benefits by COCs for the prolonged timeframe would assist associations withholding such gifted assets at severe costs.
Albeit the augmentation of the COC time frame relies upon the common simultaneousness and arrangement between the nations, these proposed protocols will most definitely encourage better employment opportunities over a lengthy span of time.