One of the important things to be taken care of when you shift jobs is the transfer of your accumulated Provident Fund (PF) amount. It is seen that in most cases, inordinate delays take place while transferring the amount, and sometimes it just does not happen. Here are a few tips which can be followed while transferring your PF when you change your job:
Track the status on the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) website: You can visit the EPFO website and track the status of your request by selecting the state of the PF office, the regional PF office where the account is maintained, the establishment code and the account number. The extension code field is normally left blank.
E-Passbook to be generated for old and new accounts: The new initiative of the EPFO enabling generation of E-Passbook will help in giving you the exact status of the PF transfer. There may be a delay in you getting your passbook, but this will be intimated to you via SMS when it is ready for download. Remember that you will not be able to download the passbook for more than one account with the same organization.
Find out where the transfer is stuck: In a PF transfer, normally the new employer, the sending PF office and the receiving PF office are involved. In some cases the sending and receiving offices will be the same. When you wished to effect the transfer, you would have submitted Form 13 to your new employer. Ask for an acknowledgement of this form submission to the receiving PF office from your new employer. You can use this to follow up with the receiving PF office. You can also consider meeting the PF officials in person, although this may not always be possible. Sometimes, your PF may have been with the old company's PF Trust. In this case, you should follow up with your old employer for the same.
Document your grievance: The EPFO has an online tool for raising grievances called the Grievance Management System. If you are unsure about the status of your PF transfer, you must raise separate grievances with both the sending PF office as well as the receiving PF office. You will be provided with a grievance number, which you must carefully preserve
Although there has not been a good track record for this online process, it is recommended that this is done as the first step. If you do not get a response to this, you can send a physical letter to the concerned PF office with details of your grievance and reference to the online grievance reference number through speed post. Do remember to inform both the new employer as well as the old employer of this process.
Use of Right to Information (RTI) Act: As the next step, you can use RTI and send an application to the Public Information Office under the concerned PF office. The application must be accompanied by a postal order for Rs. 10 favouring the respective Accounts office. As there is no fixed format for the application, you can briefly explain the background of your case as well as give references to all your previous complaints. Attach copies of such earlier correspondence, wherever possible. If there is an absence of response under this within 30 days of filing the application, you can opt for an appeal process under the RTI.
There are many employees who prefer to withdraw their PF balance when they shift jobs rather than transfer the amount. This is not recommended, as you will be losing out on the compounding benefit of the balance which has already been accumulated. However, if you choose to withdraw the amount, and find issues in this as well, you may follow the same steps as above - check with the old employer, raise a grievance online with the concerned PF office, document the grievance and then use RTI if needed.
The EPFO is taking positive steps by computerizing processes in phases and deploying facilities like E-Passbook and the Grievance Management system. However, remember that these facilities are of no use unless you personally take interest in tracking your money and getting it back. As it is your hard earned money, you must take every effort to protect and safeguard it.