Provident Fund (PF) Registration

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    Provident Fund (PF) is a government-mandated retirement savings scheme for employees in India. It is regulated under the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, which requires employers to register for the scheme and contribute to the fund on behalf of their employees. PF registration is mandatory for all establishments with 20 or more employees, and voluntary for establishments with fewer than 20 employees.

    Defining ‘Employee’ in EPF Registration Context

    Per Section 2(f) of the Employees Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, ‘employee’ encompasses any person engaged in work aiming to earn wages, directly or indirectly. The categories recognized as employees include:

    Full-Time Employees: Individuals with a permanent employment history at a company, determined by the existing employer-employee relationship. An appointment letter may verify this employment status.

    Part-Time Employees: Those working on a part-time basis for an establishment are deemed part-time employees, subject to EPFO registration, with fewer working hours than full-time counterparts.

    Work From Home Employees: Employees working remotely for a set duration are also eligible for EPF registration by their employer.

    Contractors: Specific individuals hired for distinct projects as per business needs must be registered for EPF by the hiring establishments.

    Consultants: Experts providing consultancy services for a limited period to an establishment, distinct from contractors or part-time workers.

    Freelancers: Following the Social Security Code amendment in September 2020 by the Indian Government, freelancers are now included in the ‘employee’ category, allowing them access to EPF services.

    EPF registration is mandatory for:

    • Any establishment with 20 or more employees at any point in the previous year.
    • Factories in any industry with a workforce of 20 or more during any part of the year.
    • Establishments notified by the Central Government with a two-month notice period for compulsory registration, regardless of employee count, must register immediately upon notice receipt.

    EPF Registration Eligibility Criteria

    • Compulsory Registration: Organizations with over 20 employees must register as per EPFO mandates.
    • Voluntary Registration: Establishments with fewer than 20 employees may opt for voluntary registration.
    • Universal Applicability: Any entity recognized by the act must enroll in the Employee Provident Fund.


    The following documents and information are typically required for PF registration:

    • PAN card of the establishment
    • Address proof of the establishment (e.g. electricity bill, telephone bill)
    • Bank account details of the establishment
    • List of employees and their basic salary, date of joining, and other details
    • Copy of the partnership deed or certificate of incorporation (depending on the type of establishment)

    Advantages of EPF Registration

    Employer Contributions: Employers match employee contributions to the EPF, including a share for the Employee Pension Scheme (EPS).

    Financial Aid: The provident fund provides financial support in retirement, illness, or other adversities.

    Portability: Employees can carry forward their PF account when changing jobs, without closure.

    Long-Term Goals: PF funds support employees’ long-term financial plans.

    Risk Mitigation: The EPF lowers financial risks, benefiting employees and their dependents in crises.

    Unified Account: A unique PF number is assigned post-registration, remaining constant across job changes and valid nationwide.

    EDLI Scheme: This insurance scheme offers benefits to all employees, with a nominal charge of 0.5%.

    Retirement Fund: EPF serves as a significant retirement savings tool, accessible after a certain period.

    Pension: Salary deductions contribute 12% to EPF, with over 8.33% allocated for pension needs, securing post-retirement life.

    EPF Registration and UAN Activation

    Upon EPFO portal registration, establishments generate a Universal Account Number (UAN) for employees, essential for PF claims and fund transfers. To activate UAN, employees must:

    1. Visit the EPFO’s official site and navigate to UAN activation.
    2. Enter UAN, Member ID, Aadhaar, PAN, and personal details.
    3. Fill out the captcha and submit the form.
    4. An OTP is sent to the registered mobile number.
    5. Agree to the terms and validate OTP to activate the UAN.

    Obligatory EPFO Compliance Post-Registration

     Post-registration with EPFO, establishments must adhere to specific provisions:

    • Monthly Returns: File returns online via the establishment’s portal by submitting the ECR sheet.
    • Filing Deadline: Submit returns by the 15th of the following month.
    • ECR Sheet Access: Download the ECR in XML format from EPFO, listing names and UANs of all registered employees for the return month.
    • File Conversion: Convert the XML to a CSV file for return submission.
    • Payment Gateway: Finalize return filing through online payment gateways.

    EPF Contribution Rates Explained

    • For Establishments with 20+ Employees: Both employer and employee contribute 12% of the employee’s earnings (basic salary + dearness allowance).
    • For Establishments with Fewer Than 20 Employees: These employers contribute 10% of the basic wages, instead of 12%.
    • Voluntary Registration: Establishments with up to 10 employees may voluntarily register with EPFO.
    • Loss-Incurring Establishments: Any establishment that has experienced losses in the previous year.
    • Specific Industries: Includes Brick, Jute, and Beedi making factories, among others.

    Important Documents for PF Registration

    Necessary Documents for EPF Registration For EPF registration, employers and establishments need to submit:

    • Employer’s Name
    • PAN Card of the employer
    • Identity Proof: Driving license, passport, or voter ID
    • Address Proof of the office: Utility bill, lease agreement, or property deed
    • Incorporation Certificate: For societies, trusts, LLPs, or companies
    • Partnership Deed: Along with ID and address proof for each partner in a partnership firm
    • MOA & AOA: For private or public companies
    • Employee Details for UAN:
      • Aadhaar card
      • PAN card
      • Bank details: Account number & IFSC Code
      • Contact information: Phone number & email ID
      • Date of birth as per Aadhaar
      • Job title of the employees

    EPF Contribution Rate Adjustment

    The EPF contribution rate varies by establishment size. Recently, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a reduction in the statutory EPF contribution from 12% to 10% for private sector employers and employees for three months. This measure aims to alleviate financial stress due to the pandemic. For government PSUs, employer contributions stay at 12%, but employees can contribute 10%. This decrease boosts employees’ net pay during these challenging times.


    The process for PF registration typically involves the following steps:

    1. Visit the website of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) and create an account
    2. Fill out the online application form and submit it along with the required documents
    3. Once the application is approved, the employer will receive an Establishment Code Number and a Provident Fund (PF) account number
    4. The employer must then deposit the required amount of PF contributions into the designated account on a monthly basis
    5. The employer must also file regular PF returns with the EPFO

    • Establishments with 20 or more employees are required to register for PF, while those with fewer than 20 employees may voluntarily register.

    • Employers are required to contribute 12% of the employee's basic salary, while employees are also required to contribute 12% of their basic salary.

    • Yes, an establishment with multiple branches can have a single PF registration, but each branch must be listed separately and have its own PF account number.

    • The benefits include employer contributions to the fund, financial aid in times of retirement or adversity, portability of the fund when changing jobs, and risk mitigation for employees and their dependents.

    • The standard contribution rate is 12% of the employee’s earnings (basic salary + dearness allowance) from both the employer and employee. For smaller establishments with fewer than 20 employees, the rate is 10%.

    • UAN stands for Universal Account Number, which is unique to each employee and is used for PF claims and fund transfers. It remains constant throughout an employee’s career, regardless of job changes.

    • Establishments must file monthly returns online, update the KYC of every employee, and ensure that all contributions are made through online payment gateways by the 15th of the following month.

    • Yes, as per the recent amendment to the Social Security Code in September 2020, freelancers are included under the definition of an employee and can register for EPF.