ISLAMABAD: More than 1.7 million workers in Punjab are deprived of their pension and old age grant as they don’t have social security coverage, data obtained through the Punjab RTI Law reveals.
The official data received from Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 reveals that seven out of 20 regions in Punjab have more than 2.6 million workers registered with it. However, out of 2.6 million, more than 1.7 million workers don’t have social security.
According to the PESSI data, the lowest percentage of workers having their social security coverage are from Lahore (Gulberg Region). Out of the total 78,479 workers registered with PESSI in this region, only 7,107 (9 percent) have their social security covered, whereas the remaining 71,372 registered workers have no social security. There are five regions in Lahore and three of them have not provided data of the workers registered with them.
The second lowest percentage of workers having social security coverage are from Bahawalpur region. As per the official data of Bahawalpur region, only 4,939 (19.44 percent) out of 25,398 workers have their social security covered.
Similarly, in Sheikhupura region, total 36,255 workers are registered with PEasSSI, however, only 13,576 have their social security and the remaining 22,679 workers have no social security coverage. The data received from Gujrat region shows that 8,337 (45.56 percent) of the total 18,295 have social security, whereas the remaining 9,958 workers are working without social security coverage.
On April 24, 2017, a citizen Raza Ali filed an RTI request in all 20 regions of Punjab regarding provision of certified information about total number of workers in the province and total number of workers having coverage of social security. However, after passage of almost nine months, only seven regions have provided the required information, whereas the remaining 13 regions are yet to provide the information.
In accordance with the constitutional provision of Article 38, the government started a
social insurance scheme in Pakistan for the private sector employees. Under this scheme, four types of benefits are provided to the workers which include old-age pension (or reduced pension), survivors’ pension, invalidity pension and old-age grant (if an employee is not eligible for pension).
The Govt of Pakistan had promulgated the Employees’ Old-age Pensions Ordinance in 1972. However, this was never implemented. Later on, in 1976, this was substituted with an act of Parliament, called Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976. This social insurance system was started to achieve the objective of Article 38 (c) of the Constitution.
The Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act is applicable on all firms (industrial or commercial, including banks) where five or more workers, whether contractual or regular, are employed or were employed during past 12 months. The laws remain applicable even if the number of persons employed is subsequently reduced to less than five. The business with less than five employees can get their employees registered with EOBI on voluntary basis.
The top management of Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) said they have issued show cause notices to the employers and directed them to issue their workers social security cards. The management further responded that a campaign have been launched time to time for speedy processing of social security cards of the secured workers. Similarly, mobile teams are sent to various big establishments for processing of SS cards of workers. According to the PESSI management challan U/S 66 have been lodged against the employers of the units who failed to procure the social security cards in respect of their workers.