ESIC’s unemployment sops extended till June next year

By Prashant K. Nanda
More than 50,000 people have benefited from the scheme. ht

The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on Friday extended unemployment benefits to industrial workers for another year to cope with job losses during the pandemic.

The benefit period expired on 30 June and the fresh extension of the timeline will be valid retrospectively from 1 July 2021 till 30 June 2022.

Under the provision, an unemployment allowance at 50% of three months’ salary will be provided to those ESIC subscribers who lose their jobs for any reason, Union labour and employment minister Bhupendra Yadav said. The decision was taken at the board meeting of the ESIC, one of the two largest social security bodies under the labour ministry.

“This will be beneficial to ESIC subscribers who lose jobs. But there is a strong belief that the number of workers getting retrenched during the covid-19 period is not being reported transparently and the ESIC need to step up here," said Amarjeet Kaur, a board member of the ESIC.

The insured person can submit a claim directly to an ESIC branch office instead of the claim being forwarded by the last employer with the payment made directly to the subscriber’s bank account. Since the outbreak of covid-19, more than 50,000 people have benefited from this scheme.

The board also expressed its readiness to cover nearly 6 million gig and platform workers under ESIC benefits including OPD service to tertiary care health benefits.

“The labour secretary informed the board members that ESIC is ready to accommodate about 5 to 6 million gig platform workers once the labour code on social security is implemented. And the board members also asked the ministry and the corporation to look at expanding the ESIC coverage to all of India and look at informal workers as well," Kaur added.

Industrial employers currently contribute 3.25% of their basic salaries every month, while employees contribute 0.75% for ESIC statutory deductions.

The ESIC subscribers and their families receive healthcare benefits from primary to tertiary care at ESIC hospitals and dispensaries across India, and it also offers unemployment benefits to the subscribers. ESIC receives about 16,745 crore a year from this statutory deduction.

The ESIC board, however, did not decide anything specific on a demand to raise the salary threshold limit to 25,000 per month from 21,000 currently.

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