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New Delhi: The government aims to enlist 5.5 million new workers in formal work in the next two years and get them covered under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), labour and employment secretary Apurva Chandra said on Thursday.

The target will be achieved through the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana for which the government has already announced an EPF subsidy scheme, Chandra said.

The ministry will track these workers and see if they remain in formal employment even after the scheme’s benefits are used up, he said.

“Over the next two years, a target of more than 55 lakh new workers to be brought into the fold of the provident fund has been set. The government is going to provide 24% EPF subsidy, by way of subsidy for the employees and employers contribution. It is a step to increase employment after the coronavirus pandemic," Chandra said during a function at the labour bureau to roll out the process for five national job surveys.

In October, the Union government announced the EPF subsidy scheme to create a positive job environment and increase formalization. It said the government would pay both employees and employer’s share of EPF dues every month for new workers earning up to 15,000 per month.

Chandra’s statement on Thursday puts this scheme in perspective and attaches a definite target.

“The efficacy of such schemes, whether those people who get employment remain in the formal sector in future or...again move back to the informal sector, these are interesting questions for which the government would like to have answers in these surveys and in future," the labour secretary said.

Chandra said there is a huge data gap in the country. The results of the five surveys “will give us data to frame policy in future".

“We are totally devoid of data on what is happening in the unorganized sector... So this gap will be filled by these surveys," he said. The five jobs survey data will help formulate relevant policies and policy interventions, the secretary said.

The five surveys are on industrial establishments, professionals, migrants, domestic workers, and the transport sector.

They are expected to be broad based, with large sample sizes.

The sliced view of the labour market will include ‘gig’ work and help authorities formulate a comprehensive employment policy for both formal and informal segments and design social security and welfare measures.

The labour ministry said that the objective of the survey on domestic workers would be to estimate their proportion in the workforce by state and at the national level and the social-economic indicators of regions where they work.

The migrants survey will “estimate the number of migrant workers in India and also collect information on their living conditions, working conditions, and other socioeconomic conditions", the ministry said.

The survey on professionals has a two-fold objective, “to estimate the total number of active professionals in the country and to capture the employment generated by these professionals", it said.

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