The Ministry of Labor and Employment has launched a survey asking companies contributing to the Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) to declare the number of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) employees.
Previously, the survey, piloted by NITI Aayog, was limited to public service undertakings (PSUs), however, it will now extend to private sector firms as well.
Here are more details.
Survey seeks number of total employees, and SC/ST employees
According to The Indian Express, a four-column table in the survey form requires companies to list: the company's name, the total number of employees, number of SC and ST employees.
Regional provident fund offices have been sending out the survey seeking SC/ST employee proportions to companies through September, the report stated, adding that the data would help provide them with financial benefits.
Here's what the communication from regional provident fund office reads
Reportedly, the regional provident fund office notification stated that the Ministry desires "a sample study of employment data of the proportion of SC & ST employees in total employment."
It added, "The data was requested at the first instance with respect to PSUs from whom it can be calculated in short time. However, the Ministry desired to have stratified sample data across the establishments."
Scheme to provide financial benefits to SC/ST employees
Sources said the data would be utilized by the Centre to identify SC/ST employees to pay the employee's contribution towards provident and pension funds to the EPFO.
Sources said, "After the government has data on SC/ST employees in private sector, it'll be able to make targeted transfers towards EPFO payments. This benefit from the government will help lift the financial position of SC/ST employees."
However, data collection could be harder in private sector
However, some officials have anticipated statistical errors during data collection in the private sector, where employees are not hired based on reservation.
Sources said, "There's no legal mandate for SC/ST hiring in the private sector. Such a survey was initially planned to be conducted for PSUs. For private companies, there might be some roadblocks as employees may not be forthcoming with their caste details."
Only 29% government funds allocated to SC/ST welfare released
Notably, the scheme, launched in consultation with the Labor Ministry, comes as a large portion of government-allocated funds for the welfare of SC/STs remain unused.
Reportedly, Rs 1.3 lakh crore funds have been allocated to over 300 schemes under 38 ministries and government departments to uplift SC/STs.
However, out of the total Rs. 77,748.90 crore allocated, only Rs. 22,694.77 crore (29.19%) has been released.
Intent is to improve financial status of SC/STs faster: Source
Sources told TIE, "Our intent is to improve the financial status of SC/STs at a faster rate. Since it will be difficult to target SC/ST employees in the unorganized sector, we are first starting with organized sector employees enrolled with the EPFO."