New enrolment under the two prominent social security organisations — EPFO and ESIC — fell to their lowest in three months in September, latest official data released on Thursday showed. While the ‘number of new subscribers’ (not necessarily new jobs) under EPFO fell to 8,94,732 in September from 9,67,869 in July, the number of ‘newly registered employees’ under ESIC in September fell to 13,37,797 from 13,40,140 in July.
While a gradual saturation of the formalisation process due to a focused drive in recent years may be a reason for the fall in number of new subscribers, net enrolment under EPFO has been on the rise since June to stand at 15,41,396 in September. This indicates employers are preferring to take back their old hands more than giving the new hands a chance. EPFO arrives at the net number deducting the number of members who ceased to be a member during the month from the sum total of the number of new members and the number of members who re-joined the scheme during the month. ESIC does not provide such break-up.
While EPF contribution is mandatory for workers earning up to Rs 15,000 a month in establishments having more than 20 workers, the ESIC benefits are available to low-earners in specified industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 workers; ESIC is tasked with giving insurance cover and free medical care to those earning monthly wages of up to Rs 21,000.
Since April 2018, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MosPI) has been bringing out the employment-related statistics in the formal sector covering the period September 2017 onwards, using information on the number of subscribers who have subscribed under major schemes, including EPFO and ESI scheme. Between September 2017 and September 2021, a total of 4.71 crore new subscribers joined the EPF scheme, while during the same period, 5.7 crore new subscribers joined the ESI scheme.