A third reminder mail from the human resource department at Outlook Publishing kindled the urgency of finally making some time out for doing what they had been urging me to do over the last three months. It was all about filing e-nominations for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account in which my employer and I contribute for retirement benefits.
A click on the link provided in the first mail had docked me to a login screen that wanted my UAN and a password, or Universal Account Number provided by the EPF Organisation (EPFO).
UAN is a 12-digit unique number assigned to every employee contributing to the EPF. It is generated and allotted by the EPFO and authenticated by the labour and employment ministry. UANs of employees remain the same throughout their life irrespective of the number of jobs they change. Every time an employee switches jobs, EPFO provides a new member identification number or EPF Account linked to the UAN.
Well, that was a hefty addition to the scores of numbers and IDs all of us need to remember. “UAN and the member ID number must be on my salary slip,” I thought, “I just need to fish it out from my salary slip – easy-peasy.”
Then came the thought, "what's the password?" I have never logged into my PF account in the past. I never needed to since I keep receiving statements from my organisation on the accumulated sum, the interest declared and the amounts credited to the account.
That's when a call from a colleague to discuss a project sent the thought to the backburner.
The second mail after a month made be dust off the broken link of thought and proceed a little further. This time I hit the ‘Forgot Password’ facility. Having done all that were being asked, I received the message "UAN not Active" – yet another stumbling block – and the thought was shelved again.
One more month on, the third mail mentioned many members were still to complete their e-nominations.
"Please note EPFO has fully moved onto a digital platform and stopped accepting physical submissions and applications for any requests, including transfer of funds from the previous employer to current employer, application for advance, PF and pension withdrawal and correction of personal details among other things," the mail said.
This mail finally made me realise that I may require professional help to get this done. So the project was shelved again, as I now need help from either my HR department or a friend. While there are a few websites that explain how to do this, I also realised it's a long and almost complex process.
While the organisation that handles almost 4.5 crore accounts has gone digital, many of its members continue to remain oblivious of the changes and the necessary updates they need to make on the EPFO website. The ones that are trying are mostly being blocked at the login page. It's time the EPFO realised this and made the process easier.
The author is Editor, Outlook Money