New Delhi, Jul 12 (PTI) The parliamentary panel on labour is pitching for removal of the criteria on minimum number of employees and wages for availing ESI and EPF benefits, so that these schemes can be extended to migrant workers who are hit hard by the lockdown.

The panel headed by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab is in favour of extending the coverage of the schemes to provide better social security to unorganised sector workers.

Employees State Insurance (ESI) and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) are self- financing welfare scheme for employees and workers.

Under the insurance scheme, employees earning up to Rs 21,000 a month can contribute 1.75 per cent towards ESI while the employer contributes 4.75 per cent. The coverage is extended to firms with at least 10 or more employees.

Similarly, EPF is applicable to all firms having 20 or more employees earning less than Rs 15,000 monthly wage. Under the scheme, employer pays 12 per cent of basic wages and an equal contribution is payable by the employee.

The total amount is deposited in an account on which the Employees Provident Fund Organisation pays interest which is fixed quarterly.

Mahtab said the sentiment among the panel members is that the workforce in the unorganised sector should be provided better social security cover, especially after the lockdown.

"It is also the opinion of various stakeholders and members of the panel that the threshold limit of employees and wages for availing benefits of ESI and EPF should be removed to extend the coverage of these two schemes to migrant workers and labourers," he told PTI.

The social security of the workforce should be of utmost important to the government, he added.

The panel is scheduled to be briefed by top officials of the government on Wednesday on issues relating to migrant labour force during Covid-19 pandemic.

The issues related to both ESI and EPF may come up during the meeting as members of the panel are keen on ensuring better social security.

Taking a strong stand on dilution of labour laws by some states amid the pandemic, Mahtab had previously said the industry cannot be pampered at the cost of labourers' rights.