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Jet employees forced to withdraw PF advances

As per Provident Fund Commissioner’s office, the number of employees seeking advance has increased substantially in the last two months.

The sudden shutdown of Jet Airways has forced many employees to seek advances from the Employees’ Provident Fund Office.

Dilip Rathod, assistant commissioner in the Provident Fund Commissioners office said, “The number of employees seeking advance from their respective PF has increased substantially in the last two months.”

“For the period March 1, 2019 to April 30, 2019, we got 925 requests for advances. All were cleared and we disbursed Rs 24,07,91,763. Between May 1 and May 13, we have cleared 544 requests and disbursed Rs 10,87,60,763,” Rathod said, adding, “another 804 applications will be cleared by Friday.”

As per October 2018 records, Jet Airways had 14,796 employees, while in February 2019, the number shrunk to 13,849 with more than 900 people leaving the company.

As per the Provident Fund and Misc Act, 1952, there are certain criteria for seeking advances: marriage or illness in family, children’s education, housing, and repayment of dues.

In this case, people are seeking advances under Section 68 H of the Act wherein if an employee is not paid for more than two months, he can ask for an advance, said Rathod.

March onwards Jet has not paid the company’s contribution to PF. For the month of February, the company deposited Rs 1,39,48,920 as PF contribution. For the eleven months in the 2018-19 financial year, Jet had deposited Rs 17,32,02,11,232.

The Regional Provident Fund Commissioners office has issued a notice to Jet for not depositing PF post February 2019. The notice dated May 7, a copy of which is in Mumbai Mirror’s possession, asks the management to pay up immediately.

Rathod said he had also sent an inspector to the Jet office but no payment was done till Thursday evening.

The PF commissioner has also warned Jet that inquiries under Section 7 of the Provident Fund Act will be launched and an FIR under sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant or by banker, merchant or agent) of the IPC will be registered.

Nidhi Chaphekar, a Jet cabin crew member who returned to work after being injured in a terror attack at Brussels airport in 2016, said, “It is unfortunate that employees have to dip into their retirement savings in PF. The summer vacations are on, and school and college admissions will start shortly. Some may have to pay home loan EMI. Even I am going to claim PF next month.”

The Regional Labour Commissioner, Mumbai, on Monday issued notices to State Bank of India and Ministry of Civil Aviation summoning their representatives regarding the Jet Airways crisis, and directed that the Airport Entry Pass (AEP) given to Jet Airways employees should not be confiscated and no coercive action should be taken to bar entry to Jet employees at various airports.

The notices came as a result of the first conciliation meeting presided over by Karam Chand, the Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) and Conciliation Officer, at the Central Labour Institute in Sion. Jet Airways Chief Executive Officer Vinay Dube, Bharatiya Kamgar Sena president Suryakant Mahadik, and Jet Airways cabin crew Nidhi Chaphekar along with others to discuss various aspects of the Jet Airways crisis. Mahadik, who heads Shiv Sena-backed Jet employees union, demanded that the Central government should direct State Bank of India to immediately release interim funds to clear the pending dues of 22,500 Jet employees and restart flight operations.

Source : Mumbai Mirror