The Ministry of Labour and Employment is considering extending the timeline of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) till March next year from the existing June 30, in a bid to boost fresh hiring in the country amid the pandemic, said sources.
Under the ABRY approved by the Union Cabinet in December last year, the government pays mandatory employees provident fund contributions of workers as well as employers for new recruits for a period of two years.
Under the scheme with an outlay of Rs 22,810 crore, workers recruited from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, were covered.
"The Ministry of Labour and Employment is in the process of circulating a Cabinet proposal for extending the timeline for ABRY till March 2022," sources told PTI.
The source explained that about 21 lakh new recruits are benefitted so far which is far less than government's expectation of 58.5 lakh.
Therefore, the labour ministry would push for extending the deadline of the scheme till March next year as the allocation of funds for the scheme was done keeping in mind the 58.5 lakh beneficiaries, the source added.
During the pandemic, the government took a series of steps to boost employment generation and to give relief to workers grappling with job loss and pay cuts.
The ABRY was one of those measures. Government had allocated Rs 22,810 crore for the entire period of implementation of the scheme from 2020 to 2023.
Under the scheme, the central government pays both 12 per cent employees' contribution and 12 per cent employers' contribution i.e. 24 per cent of wages towards social security schemes run by the retirement fund body Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
An employee drawing a monthly wage of less than Rs 15,000 who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before 1st October, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number or EPF Member account number prior to 1st October 2020 is eligible for the benefit.
Any EPF member possessing Universal Account Number (UAN) drawing monthly wage of less than Rs 15,000 who made exit from employment during the Covid pandemic from March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020 and did not join employment in any EPF covered establishment up to September 30, 2020, is also be eligible to avail benefit.
The ABRY was aimed at boosting employment in the formal sector and to incentivise creation of new employment opportunities during the Covid recovery phase under Atmanirbhar Bharat Package 3.0.