The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has decided to increase the threshold limit for mandatory coverage for organized sector workers from Rs.15000 to Rs 21000 a month, which will come into effect from 1 October. This step might get an additional 50 lakh employees under its operation taking the tally of insured persons (IPs) to more than three crores. This will be the rise in wage ceiling for the ninth time since the implementation of the scheme in 1952.

“A raise in the ceiling for mandatory coverage under the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) is also under consideration, and the matter will be taken up for discussion at the retirement fund body’s next meeting of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT),” said, Bandaru Dattatreya, labor and employment minister. “ESIC has raised the threshold wage limit from Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000. Both the decisions will come into form from 1 October,” he added.

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At present, ESIC has insured persons of 2.6 crores in number which covers more than 10 crore people, considering four members from each family. Dattatreya also mentioned about a plan to raise the wage threshold for retirement fund body subscribers of EPFO, and it might be considered in the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) next meeting.

“It’s a pro-worker move and in a way historical. After hiking the minimum wage late last month, the Union government has again taken a pro-employee stand that will benefit 1.2 crores more beneficiaries,” said S. Mallesham, another ESIC board member.

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Unless the medical facilities quality gets improve, an increase in wage ceiling will not be a decision which actually benefits. The question is that when there are 14000 vacancies in the ESIC system, how one can serve more people.