The Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) was announced by the Government of India on the 12th of November 2020. The scheme falls under the broader umbrella of Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 and aims to incentivize creation of new job opportunities. To this end, Ministry of Labour and Employment has approved a scheme with guidelines. While the scheme guidelines can be accessed on Simpliance, there remain some common questions relating to it. This article shall address frequently asked questions to provide readers with succinct answers relating to the scheme.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does the scheme come into force?
Ans. The scheme stands commenced from 1st October 2020 and shall remain open for registration of eligible employers and new employees up to 30th June 2021.
Is registration under the scheme mandatory?
Ans. No, the scheme merely provides an incentive that establishments registered under the EPFO or those newly registered can avail of. There is no compulsion to register or penalty for non-registration under the scheme.
What incentive does the scheme offer?
Ans. The ABRY scheme provides upfront credit of both the employees’ and the employer’s share of contribution payable or only the employees’ share, depending on the employment strength of an establishment. This credit shall be provided by the Central Government in the Universal Account Number (UAN) of eligible employees employed in EPFO registered establishments.
What is a reference base as mentioned under the Scheme guidelines?
Ans. The reference base of employees mentioned under the scheme is nothing but the number of employees for whom the employer has remitted contributions for the wage month of September 2020. The reason for taking September into consideration is the fact that it is the wage month that immediately precedes the commencement of the scheme. In case of new establishments getting registered with the EPFO during the validity of the scheme, the reference base shall be treated as zero.
What is the amount of benefit/subsidy that can be availed of under the Scheme?
Ans. The Central Government shall provide subsidy for 24 wage months in respect of eligible new employees at the following scale:-
(i) For establishments employing less than or equal to 1000 employees (that is contributing EPF members with UAN) in wage month September 2020 both the employer’s and employees’ share of contribution as per statutory rate subject to a maximum of 24% of wages
(ii) For establishments employing more than 1000 employees (that is contributing EPF members with UAN) in wage month September 2020 only the employees’ share of contribution as per statutory rate subject to a maximum of 12% of wages
Who is considered a new employee under the ABRY Scheme?
Ans. A new employee is any employee drawing less than Rs. 15,000 per month, who falls under one of the following categories:-
(i.) Who was not working in any establishment and did not have a UAN prior to 1st October 2020 and obtains employment in an establishment on or after 1st October 2020 up to 30th June 2021 and has been allotted AADHAR validated UAN
(ii.) Any EPF member, already allotted with UAN, who lost gainful employment during the period from 1st March 2020 to 30th September 2020 from any establishment with the date of such exit recorded in UAN. Such a member who joins any establishment on or after 1st October 2020 up to 30th June 2021
What are the eligibility criteria under the scheme?
Ans. Establishments that are registered with the EPFO before the commencement of this scheme shall have to employ, over and above the reference base:-
- Minimum two employees if their reference base is less than or equal to 50
- Minimum five employees if their reference base is more than 50
In addition to maintaining the minimum number of additional new employees and continuing their employment, already registered establishments must also continue to retain the number of employees taken as reference base for availing incentive under this scheme. If any establishment being a single legal entity, is submitting compliance under multiple Code numbers to the EPFO, then for the purpose of computing the number of employees for eligibility criteria under the scheme, all employees in the establishment as a whole shall be included.
Can a contractor claim benefit under the ABRY Scheme?
Ans. Establishments working as contractors who supply manpower to one or more principal employers cannot claim benefit of principal employers’ share of subsidy availed under the scheme, if the same is claimed or received by the principal employer. Any amount of employer’s share so claimed shall be liable to be refunded to the Central Government.
What is the procedure for availing benefits under the ABRY Scheme?
Ans. The procedure for availing benefits can be summarized into a stepwise process as follows:-
Step-1: The employer in an eligible establishment shall register the establishment under this Scheme disclosing the reference base of employees through a link on the Employer’s login page on the EPFO Unified Portal. Prior to registration the employer must ensure that updated ownership returns have been filed with the EPFO.
Step-2: Before taking an employee into employment under this Scheme, the employer must obtain a declaration that affirms their establishment’s previous membership under the EPF Scheme and the EPS Scheme. The registration of new employees must take place during the period from 1-10-2020 to 30-06-2021.
Step-3: The incentive under this Scheme must be claimed through the Electronic-Challan cum Return (ECR). The same must be filed not later than 60 days of the close of a particular wage month.
Step-4: Once the ECR is uploaded in the specified timeframe, the challan shall show the quantum of employees’ and employers’ contribution in respect of new employees that shall be provided by the Central Government and any amount payable by the employer. The employer must then remit the payment due and complete the process of ECR filing.
Step-5: Along with ECR to claim subsidy for any wage month, the employer shall be required to upload a certificate/declaration in the format provided under the ABRY scheme Guidelines.
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