For faster processing of EPF withdrawal claims amid the pandemic crisis, the retirement fund body the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has allowed establishments covered under the EPFO to send aadhaar -based e-signature or the one-time registration of DSC or digital signature request to the EPFO regional office via mail.
Until now, the employers had to send the one-time registration request to their EPFO regional office phyiscally.
"The digital signature or e-sign of the employer has a validity of one-two years. After that they have to renew it. After renewal, the employer has to again get the digital signatures registered with EPFO," said one of the officers of the provident fund body, on the condition of anonymity.
But as the lockdown remains in force and courier or postal services are not functioning as usual, several employers are confronting difficulties in sending over the one-time registration requests physically to the regional offices.
An EPFO circular dated May 6, 2020 said, "An employer can send the scanned copy of the duly signed request letter to the concerned regional office through email. Official email addresses of regional offices are available at www.epfindia.gov.in".
So, as the physical element that was earlier applicable for sending the one-time registration request to the EPFO regional office has been done away with and has been otherwise channelized through the online route, any delay in EPF claim processing due to the absence of employer's digital signature shall not be an issue now.
Employer's DSC is needed for approving each of the employee's online EPF request
Notably, digital signature or DSC or the e-sign of the employer are required for an array of important tasks such as transfer claim attestation by the employer, KYC attestation etc. for the employee. So, without the e-sign none of the online requests (relating to EPF) by the employee, will not be taken forward.
Say for instance, in a case when the EPF subscriber who has placed withdrawal request with the EPFO has also updated his bank account number, this KYC updation pertaining to change in bank account number shall be effected only when the employer approves the same using its digital signature. And it is only after the KYC updation is done that claim processing will be taken ahead further.