Effectively using RTI Levers to Expedite EPFO Processes: My Experiences

Filed Under (Motley) by Rajesh Kumar on 09-08-2011

I belong to an industry in which 20% people change jobs every year. With every change, we need to ensure that the EPF Account with created by the new employer(‘Target Account’) gets credited with the balance accumulated in the EPF Account created by previous employer (‘Source Account’). If the previous employer and current employer are headquartered in different EPFO jurisdictions (such as different states), then the process becomes quite time consuming, even stretching into years. Though EPFO provides a web interface to check the status of the transfer request (Called ‘Claim Status’ in official lingo), you may find yourself wondering which end you should check, whether the source end or the target end. Even when you try both ends, you may find yourself no wiser on the status! And it is quite possible that you may see no action for several quarters. Having used provisions of  Right to Information Act 2005 against IIM Calcutta earlier and seen the speed it magically brings to stalled processes,  I recently user the Right to Information intervention to get an update on my PF transfer request. In fact, within 4 days of receiving my RTI query, the concerned PF office has carried out the pending transfer and followed it up with multiple SMS updates.

In case you are in a similar dilemma as to how to follow up, here are my recommended steps:

 Step 1: Find the EPFO office having jurisdiction over your case (both target and source). Then send a gentle reminder for expeditious processing to the head of both offices by registered post giving details of the case. You should also enclose a copy of the letter forwarding the Form 13 from target (submitting office) to the source office, if available. There are only two things to keep in mind.

  1. Please look up the head of the concerned office in this directory and then identify the senior most officer in that office. Usually they would be at PF Commissioner level. If there are more than one in an office, please address it to PF Commissioner 1. But the real trick is in addressing him/her by name in your letter and also on the envelope cover. Typically this would mean Mr ABC, PF Commissioner 1, EPFO City XYZ. This would ensure the letter reaches the table of the officer concerned and that significantly raises the possibility of quick action.
  2. Please send your letter by Registered or Speed Post.

Step 2: Wait for four weeks and check the status online. I know of several individuals where such simple interventions have worked like magic. However, do not expect a reply back in most cases. You may still not learn how much money actually got credited into your Employee Provident Fund Account setup via the current employer.

Step 3: Prepare to file RTI at the target EPFO office. Suppose your previous account through your previous employer was in Pune (‘source’) and the current one is in Chennai (‘target’),  file your RTI at target office first. Follow the following steps:

  1. Get a Rs 10 postal order from the nearby post office (Yes, contrary to your likely belief, both the postal order and the post office continue to exist!). Fill the ‘Pay to’ party as Accounts Officer, EPFO Chennai.
  2. Draft your RTI letter. The Right to Information Act 2005 DOES NOT specify a format so it is upto you to prepare it. I recommend this template that I have prepared and shared for illustrative purposes.
  3. Send it by Speed Post or Registered Post.

Step 4: The PF office is obligated by law to reply to you within 30 days of receipt of your query. In his reply, the PF office will either confirm that that the process has happened successfully, or let you know (as it happened in my case) that the matter is pending at the source EPFO office. If it is the former, you should be happy. If it is latter, there are a few more ends to close. Read on.

Step 5: Prepare your next PF query, this time to the source EPFO office.  And this time, do enclose a copy of the response received in Step 4. Follow this template and don’t forget to enclose the all important Rs 10 fee via Postal Order.

Step 6: In my case, the response was delighting. The transfer was effected within a week of my filing the RTI query. I subsequently received the details by SMS and of course, the RTI response that arrived in a matter of two weeks. Bingo!

Step 7: After awaiting for two weeks, if the online status does not change you may consider filing an RTI query at your local EPFO (that holds the target account). That should complete the process.

For those who do not find visiting post office easy or convenient, you may choose to use the services RTINATION website to file your query. At first the site would help you create the letter, then you have to download the same and sign it and scan the letter and send it back to the site. They would speed post it to the concerned officer and also enclose the fee. However, you need access to a scanner. Send back the letter to RTINATION by courier or ordinary post if that helps your convenience. For all this convenience, you pay the site a sum of Rs 150 as a fee. Though I have not availed their services yet, my friend Gurdev Singh Parmar finds it quite convenient and has all the recommendations for it.

Hope this is found to be useful. The only idea of posting sharing the experiences here is to help fellow citizens. Do share your experiences and queries here. While I cannot call myself an RTI guerilla, I have nevertheless used it earlier and benefitted from it.

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    About Rajesh Kumar. Rajesh is based in Chennai, where he works for Defiance Technologies in Marketing. The views on this blog are his own. Rajesh Kumar