Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal has also written to state governments to seek their co-operation in the endeavour.
The biggest challenge in bringing millions of India’s construction workers under various welfare schemes is the seasonal and migrant nature of their job.
Most workers in the construction sector are semi-skilled or unskilled and work at sites across the country for spells of a few months at a time. With low literacy levels, they are also prone to benefit cheating by employers or contractors they work with.
Every state collects cess on the cost of construction incurred by employers to form a fund to be utilised for welfare of construction workers.
Of the total cess of Rs 16,214 crore collected till December 2014, only Rs 2,859 crore, or a little over 17 per cent, has been spent as most states have failed to design any schemes to deploy these funds.
“The matter (of covering construction workers) is being monitored at the highest level in government and this is an area flagged as one of utmost concern,” according to a note sent to all provident fund commissioners last week.
“Thus it becomes imperative that this work is accorded top priority and taken up in right earnest, duly engaging all the stakeholders, including various trade unions and industry bodies,” Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (Compliance) Gautam Dixit wrote in the missive.
To counter the issue of frequent changes in employer and location, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation or EPFO has decided to register construction workers on the Universal Account Number (UAN) portal, thereby allocating them a universal number for easy transfer of PF funds while switching jobs.
The regional commissioners have been requested to organise meetings with public sector units, trade unions and visit big construction sites. The EPFO has also asked them to hold meetings with state labour departments and to get in touch with the State Building and Construction Workers Board constituted by states to get the database of construction workers.
The PF office has sought an action taken report from all the regional PF commissioners within seven days on the issue.
Pls refer to the necessary circular as issued by the Central Epf Office to All SRO & Regional Office.