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Chapter 1 Introduction Contextual Framework

The success of democracy and development of a country depends to a

greater extent on the efficiency of the government machinery. However, in the exercise of administrative powers there is always a possibility of malpractices. This results in public grievances towards the administration. According to Chambers dictionary, grievance means a 'ground of complaint, a condition felt to be oppressive or wrongful'. In the UK, the Cabinet Office (1998) publication How to Deal with Complaints outlined a broad working definition of a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction that needs a response. While a

complaint is an expression of displeasure, such as poor service, a grievance is a formal statement of complaint generally against an authority figure. In a democracy people should have the opportunities to ventilate their grievances as well as a system for redressal of grievances. The colonial

history and the authoritarian orientation of Indian administration resulted in the negative attitude of citizens towards the administration. The gap between the performance of administration and the expectations of the people also created a negative image of administration. The democratic -aspirations of the people and authoritarian attitude of administrators produced tensions between the two. The contradictions in the social situation have resulted in inequalities. There is discrimination in the treatment of citizens by administration. The social gap between the civil servant and the citizen whom he is expected to serve also is a cause for hostile relationship between the two. The welleducated urban middle class civil servant is expected to serve the poor and illiterate citizens. This creates a socio-psychological gap between them. Then, there are the chronic delays in getting things done, and innumerable rules and regulations that are not easily comprehensible to ordinary citizens. The cumulative effect of all these factors is the piling up of public grievances against administration. Some of the common grievances against administration may be as listed under (egyankosh): a) Corruption: Demand and acceptance of bribery for doing or not doing things.

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b) Favouritism: Doing or not doing things for obliging people in power or people who matter. c) Nepotism: Helping the people of one's own kith or kin. d) Discourtesy: Use of abusive language or other types of misbehaviour. e) Neglect of Duty: Not doing things that the law requires. f) Discrimination: Ignoring poor and uninfluential citizens' genuine complaints. g) Delay: Not doing things at the appropriate time. h) Maladministration: Inefficiency in achieving the targets. i) Inadequate Redressal Machinery: Failure to attend to public complaints against administration.

1.1 Legislative Provisions Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of India, inter-alia, enjoins upon the State to strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may, a social order in which equity and justice, -social, economic and political, - prevails in all the institutions of the national life. Accordingly the Government of India has, through various enactments, endeavoured to give effect to the ideas and objectives enshrined in the Constitution. In the field of social security, the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 is one of such legislations. This Act in its initial form was known as Employees Provident Funds Act, 1952 as this had the provision of Provident Fund only at that time. Subsequently with the passage of time it was felt that Provident Fund alone was not enough to provide adequate social security to the workers and particularly to their family in the event of death of the member. Hence the Act had to be amended to incorporate the following schemes: -Employees' Family Pension Scheme, 1971 -Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976

Employees' Family Pension Scheme, 1971 was subsequently replaced by the Employees' Pension Scheme, 1995. Presently the Act is known as the

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Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and it has the following three schemes: y y y Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976 Employees' Pension Scheme, 1995

1.1.1 Application of the Act: Employees' Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 as it stands today, is applicable to:  every establishment which is engaged in any one or more of the industries specified in Schedule I to the Act or any activity notified by Central Government in the Official Gazette; and  employing 20 or more persons. Presently the Act is applicable to factories/establishments engaged in 187 industries/classes of establishments employing 20 or more workers. There is a provision for voluntary coverage of any establishment under Section 1(4) of the Act upon joint request from the employer and majority of its employees, to whom it does not apply otherwise.

The Central Government has residual powers to apply this Act to any establishment employing less than 20 persons. Further in pursuance of powers conferred to the Government, special provisions have also been made for extending the benefits of the EPF Scheme to Cine Workers, Newspaper employees, workers with disability and the International Workers and specific eligibility criteria for membership has also been specified in respect of each category.

1.1.2 Eligibility for Membership: An employee at the time of joining the employment and getting wages upto Rs.6,500/- (w.e.f. 01.06.2001) is required to become a member of the Fund.

1.1.3 Exemption: The establishments brought under the purview of the Act are required to comply with the statutory provisions of all the three Schemes framed under the Act. However, an option is available to those establishments, which can formulate independent Schemes conferring
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benefits not less favorable than those provided under the Statutory Schemes, to their employees to seek exemption under Section 17 of the Act, if the majority of the employees are in favour of such an exemption. This provision is by and large availed by establishments to obtain exemption from the operations of the EPF Scheme, 1952 and EDLI Scheme, 1976. Such independent Provident Fund Schemes could also be operated for a class of employees under the provisions of Para 27A of the EPF Scheme. In addition individual employees may also seek exemption under Para 27 of the EPF Scheme for enjoying the benefits of enrollment under the excluded Scheme administered by the establishment. As on 31.3.2010, there were 2750 establishments enjoying exemption, as against 2755 establishments at the end of the previous year 48,63,100 members are serviced by these exempted establishments as against 43,91,706 members during the previous year (Annual Report 2009-10) . The Act also provides exclusion of certain establishments as specified under Sec. 16 of the Act.

1.1.4 Coverage and Membership: As per Annual Reports of the organisation, the details of establishments covered and members enrolled for the last five years are as under: TABLE-1 Performance for the last 5 years (figures as on March 31st )
2005-06 1(a) (b) 2006-07 471678 444.04 2007-08 532702 449.19 2008-09 573063 470.72 2009-10 615902 587.86

Establishments Covered Members Enrolled (In Lakhs)

444464 429.53

The Region-wise details of establishment covered and membership as on 31st March, 2010, is given in the following table: TABLE-2 (Details of Establishment and Membership as on 31.03.2010)
Establishments
REGION Unexempte d 4770 20770 17956 43496 Exempted 35 156 87 278 Total 4805 20926 18043 43774 % of All India Total 0.78% 3.40% 2.93% 7.11% Unexempted 511614 2416826 2337003 5265443

Membership
Exempted 62390 307235 99001 468626 Total 574004 2724061 2436004 5734069 % of All India Total 0.98% 4.63% 4.14% 9.75%

Dehradun Delhi (North) Delhi (South) ZO (DL &UK)

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Chandigarh Ludhiana Shimla ZO (PN & HP) Kanpur Meerut Patna ZO (UP & BR) Faridabad Gurgaon Jaipur ZO (HR & RJ) Ahmedabad Baroda Indore Surat ZO (GJ & MP) Kandivili Mumbai-I Bandra Mumbai-II Thane Nagpur Pune Raipur ZO (MH & CG) Bangalore Gulbarga Mangalore Panaji Peenya ZO (KN & Goa) Bhubaneshwar Guntur Hyderabad Nizamabad ZO (AP & OR) Chennai Coimbatore Madurai Tambaram Thiruvananthap uram ZO ( TN & KR) Guwahati (NER) Jalpaiguri Kolkata Ranchi ZO (WB, NER & JH) All INDIA

14951 15294 6432 36677 20457 20741 7534 48732 17553 12396 21551 51500 30219 6824 17739 17273 72055 19475 21487 18627 15816 21862 7183 104450 9835 9392 10719 3211 11036 44193 13512 26495 22119 6616 68742 20667 24715 14896 10923 17206 88407 8471 6739 30359 9331 54900 613152

10 25 86 121 132 68 96 296 44 47 49 140 58 19 40 21 138 65 281 75 59 101 40 621 44 28 13 8 60 153 99 46 47 9 201 68 29 14 20 65 196 17 9 502 78 606 2750

14961 15319 6518 36798 20589 20809 7630 49028 17597 12443 21600 51640 30277 6843 17779 17294 72193 19540 21768 18702 15875 21963 7223 105071 9879 9420 10732 3219 11096 44346 13611 26541 22166 6625 68943 20735 24744 14910 10943 17271 88603 8488 6748 30861 9409 55506 615902

2.43% 2.49% 1.06% 5.97% 3.34% 3.38% 1.24% 7.96% 2.86% 2.02% 3.51% 8.38% 4.92% 1.11% 2.89% 2.81% 11.72% 3.17% 3.53% 3.04% 2.58% 3.57% 1.17% 17.06% 1.60% 1.53% 1.74% 0.52% 1.80% 7.20% 2.21% 4.31% 3.60% 1.08% 11.19% 3.37% 4.02% 2.42% 1.78% 2.80% 14.39% 1.38% 1.10% 5.01% 1.53% 9.01% 100.00%

1544098 1865583 196610 3606291 559613 1049701 261443 1870757 2389141 1534070 1095439 5018650 1744962 449467 1962176 755267 4911872 1580744 2294556 1204047 1030275 2041823 330447 8481892 1775410 387157 1360164 645850 4030038 8198619 629497 855069 1413082 636192 3533840 2530051 2387824 1874854 1034654 1759906 9587289 338118 861311 1453120 805343 3457892 53932545

9694 31464 10555 51713 125202 44860 15865 185927 54518 77140 136284 267942 102042 91028 35560 10485 239115 80872 1085560 121738 111678 168815 70832 1639495 200052 63984 32531 14443 242790 553800 68755 62848 222831 4149 358583 181294 59720 14683 21535 52398 329630 10360 5093 538233 214583 768269 4863100

1553792 1897047 207165 3658004 684815 1094561 277308 2056684 2443659 1611210 1231723 5286592 1847004 540495 1997736 765752 5150987 1661616 3380116 1325785 1141953 2210638 401279 10121387 1975462 451141 1392695 660293 4272828 8752419 698252 917917 1635913 640341 3892423 2711345 2447544 1889537 1056189 1812304 9916919 348478 866404 1991353 1019926 4226161 58795645

2.64% 3.23% 0.35% 6.22% 1.16% 1.86% 0.47% 3.50% 4.16% 2.74% 2.09% 8.99% 3.14% 0.92% 3.40% 1.30% 8.76% 2.83% 5.75% 2.25% 1.94% 3.76% 0.68% 17.21% 3.36% 0.77% 2.37% 1.12% 7.27% 14.89% 1.19% 1.56% 2.78% 1.09% 6.62% 4.61% 4.16% 3.21% 1.80% 3.08% 16.87% 0.59% 1.47% 3.39% 1.73% 7.19% 100.00% - 5-

A Study of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

1.2 Functioning of EPFO In accordance with the provisions of the Act, a Board of Trustees (i.e.

Central Board of Trustees) is required to be constituted by Central Government for administering the Fund vested in it in such manner as may be prescribed in the Scheme. Thus the three schemes framed under the Act are administered by a tripartite body namely consisting of Chairman, Vice Central Board of Trustees, EPF, and members representing Chairman

government, employers and employees. CPFC is the Member Secretary and Union Minister for Labour & Employment is the Chairman of the Board. CBT functions subject to overall regulatory control of the Central Government.

Further in the discharge of its functions relating to administrative matters, CBT is assisted by the Executive Committee, which is a statutory Committee, constituted from amongst the members of the Board. In addition to

Executive Committee, there are a few sub-Committees constituted to assist the Central Board of Trustees, EPF, for its smooth functioning. 1.3 Organisational Set up Organisational Set up of EPFO is depicted in the following diagram:

ORGANISATIONAL SET-UP
Tripartite Central Board Of Trustees

Central Provident Fund Commissioner

Head Office

ZOs Regional Offices (40) Sub Regional Offices (80


National Academy for Training & Research in Social Security

Zonal Training Institutes (04)

Head Office of EPFO is located at Bhikaiji Cama Place, Delhi. In the field offices, there are 10 Zonal Offices, 40 Regional Offices and 120 Sub Regional Offices. From the administrative point of view, CPFC is Head of the
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organisation. Prior to January, 2009, the post of CPFC was a Joint Secretary level post, however, with effect from it has been upgraded to a Secretary level. 1.3.1 The details of manpower in the organisation are in the following table TABLE-3
MANPOWER 2005-06 595 Group A (675) 1984 Group B (2222) 13933 Group C (17959) 2133 Group D (2420) 18725 Total (23276) (23344) (23430) (25809) (24152) (2420) 19510 (2421) 19137 (2421) 19508 (17998) 2173 (18014) 2150 (2241) 14747 (2260) 14418 (2883) 14515 (19573) 2150 (6140) 13192 (16990) (including erstwhile Group-D) 19175 (685) 1988 (735) 1971 (932) 2198 (1022) 5154 2006-07 602 2007-08 618 2008-09 645 2009-10 829

1.4 Schemes Administered by EPFO The provisions of the Act and the Schemes apply to 187 industries and classes of establishments. The establishments, which satisfy the requirements of the Act viz. having 20 employees or more or those opting voluntarily, are covered under the Act. The Act and schemes framed there under provide for contribution by the employee and employer. The rate of contribution is 12% and it is to be paid on basic wages, DA and retaining allowance. The employer is also liable to pay administrative and inspection charges (in case of an exempted establishment) as per prescribed rate. The following table presents an overview of the three schemes being administered by EPFO:

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TABLE-4
Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 Benefits: Accumulation plus interest upon retirement, resignation, death Partial withdrawals allowed for specific expenses such as house construction, higher education, marriage, illness Employees' Pension Scheme, 1995 Monthly benefits for superannuation/ retirement, disability, survivor widow(er), children Amount of pension based on average salary during the preceding 12 months from the date of exit and total years of employment Minimum disablement pension on Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976 Provides lump-sum benefit upon death while in service, equal to average balance in the EPF account during the preceding 12 months of death, if average P.F. balance is less than Rs. 35,000. In case average balance exceeds Rs. 35,000; amount paid will be Rs. 35,000 plus 25% of average balance in excess of Rs. 35,000 limited to a maximum benefit of Rs. 1,30,000.

Past service benefit to participants of Family Pension Scheme, 1971. Contributions: (% on wages) Employer 3.67% (for 182 industries) 1.67% (for 5 industries) Employee 12% (for 182 industries) 10% (for 5 industries) Government Administrative Charges Un-exempted (% of wages) Inspection Charges Exempted (% on wages) 1.10% Nil 1.16% Till 05.01.2007 @ of 16% paid out of the EPS Fund and rest from PF Administration Fund w.e.f 06.01.2007 to be met fully from PF Administration Fund. Nil 8.33%

0.5%

Nil

Nil

0.01%

0.18%

Not Applicable

0.005%

1.5 Investment of Funds and Rate of Interest In accordance with the provisions of the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 all monies pertaining to the Fund are to be deposited in the Reserve Bank of India or other Scheduled Bank as may be approved by the Central Government and invested subject to such directions as the Central from time to time give. Accordingly, the contributions

Government may

received by the Organisation are invested as per the pattern of investment


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prescribed by the Central Government.

Day to day Investment is being

managed by the portfolio managers now a days. Earlier State Bank of India, Central Office Mumbai was assigned this job. The establishments, which are exempted under the Act, are also required to follow the same pattern. EPFO is required to credit interest on the balance available in the accounts of the

members at such rate as may be determined by the Central Government in consultation with the Central Board of Trustees. The rate of interest is

recommended by the CBT keeping in view the estimated earnings of the invested funds. Subsequently based on the recommendation of the CBT, the rate of interest is declared by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in consultation with the Ministry of Finance.

1.6 Service Delivery by EPFO: Public service is defined as all activities delivered by the government to fulfill those needs that society needs to go through life. Public Service Delivery is defined as a set of institutional arrangements adopted by the government to provide public goods and services to its citizens. Public services delivery has been one of the key functions of the public sector which uses civil service bureaucracies as the instrument for the delivery of services (World Development Report, 2004)

1.6.1 Since its set up in 1952, the organization is actively engaged in the field of social security benefits to the stakeholders. Initially the benefits to the claimants were available under the EPF Scheme, 1952. However, consequent upon introduction of other schemes providing pensionary and assurance benefits, activities of the organisation have increased and resulted in vast scope of service delivery to the members. The service delivery to be provided to the members of the fund encompasses entire duration of membership of the fund. It can be spelt out in details as following: a. Since the date of joining an establishment, each and every employee, except those falling under the category of excluded employee, is

required to be a member of the fund. b. If a member leaves one establishment and joins another establishment to which the Act is applicable, his accumulations lying in previous account are required to be transferred to the new account.

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c. During the period of service and subject to fulfilling the eligibility conditions, the claims relating to withdrawals and advances have to be settled. d. If the member is eligible for final settlement and pension or pension withdrawals etc., the EPFO is liable to settle the claim and release benefits to the member.

e. In the event of death of the member, the benefits available under the three schemes are required to be paid to the eligible claimant i.e. spouse, children, parents or nominee etc. f. Consequent upon release of Pension Payment Order, it needs to be ensured that the payment of pension amount is done regularly to the pensioner(s). 1.6.2 The benefits under the schemes are provided to the members through field offices, namely Regional and Sub Regional Offices located across the country except Jammu and Kashmir, where EPF&MP Act does not apply.

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Chapter 2 Grievances in EPFO-Genesis and Characteristics


Broadly, a grievance is defined as any discontent of dissatisfaction with any respect of dissatisfaction with any aspect of the organization. In other words, a grievance is basically any expression of dissatisfaction, which needs a response. It can be real or imaginary, legitimate or ridiculous, rated or unvoiced, written or oral, it must however, find expression in some form of the other. The grievances include complaints by service recipients against nondelivery of services as expected by service recipients, but do not include requests for service delivery in the normal course.

In accordance with the provisions of the Act and schemes framed thereunder, social security benefits are required to be extended to all eligible employees employed in an establishment covered under the Act i.e. an employee drawing basic wages, dearness allowance and retaining allowance upto Rs.6500 per month is required to be enrolled as member of the EPF from the day first of joining. Intimation to this effect has to be given by the employer to the concerned field office of EPFO, under which the establishment is covered, in Form 5. Consequent upon enrolment of an employee, employer is required to remit employee and employers share of contribution at the prescribed rate in respect of each member-as prescribed under the schemes- on monthly basis. A member continues to be a member until he withdraws the amount standing to his credit. A member of the Fund has certain rights during the period of membership as well as after retirement. In case of death of a member, the benefits can be claimed by the survivors namely, family, parents and nominee etc. These rights have been laid down in the Bill of Rights of Employees which reads as under: o Right to membership of Provident Fund, Pension and EDLI Schemes for every employee of covered establishment drawing monthly basic pay and D.A. up to Rs.6,500. o To receive Annual Statement of Provident Fund Account by 30th September of the following year.

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o To obtain claim form free of cost from any Provident Fund Office. o To obtain assistance/guidance from Public Relations Officers in filling up of forms. o To submit claim applications in any office of EPFO and obtain acknowledgement. o To get partial withdrawals settled within a maximum period of 30 days for specified purposes. o To get claim final withdrawals settled within 30 days from the date of submission of claim. o To get the accumulations transferred to new account within 30 days of change of employer. o To execute nomination for receiving Provident Fund

accumulations/pension. o To register grievance and get redressal. o To approach officer-in-charge of any office for redressal of grievance without prior appointment. o To receive guaranteed monthly payment of pension even in case of non-payment of dues by employer. o To receive Provident Fund dues from Special Reserve Fund:    In case of non-payment by employer of contribution deducted from wages; In case of non-payment by the employer of establishment closed for more than three years. In case of fraudulent withdrawal from account.

2.1 Genesis of Grievances Generally a grievance arises when a person is not given what is due to him. In the context of EPFO, a grievance may arise if the member is deprived of any of the above provision mentioned in the Bill of Rights of Employees. In this context, it is mentioned that extension of social

security benefits to the member involves three actors namely, employer, EPFO and the disbursing agency i.e. bank etc, therefore, genesis of grievance may be attributed to any of three actors singly or jointly as explained below: -

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2.1.1 Grievances involving employer: A grievance can arise, if the employer does not: y y y enrol an employee as a member of the Fund remit the contribution regularly attest the claims forms in respect of a member

2.1.2 Grievances involving EPFO: Such type of grievance arises on account of efficient service delivery i.e. delay in processing and settlement of claims, payment of less amount of PF or pension, rejection and return of claims without any due justification, non receipt of annual statement of account and delivery of cheques at wrong address etc. 2.1.3 Grievances involving disbursing agency: Genesis of a grievance may also be attributed to the disbursing agency. This can happen when the amount is not credited to the account of claimants due to loss of cheques or delay in processing by the staff of disbursing agency. 2.2. Nature of Grievances The grievances received for redressal by the organization pertains normally to the: a. Settlement of the claims of Provident Fund. b. Employees Pension Scheme. c. Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme. d. Transfer of Provident Fund Account. e. Advances. f. Issue of Annual Statement of Accounts. g. Non-coverage of employee for EPF benefits. h. Non-compliance by employers. i. Non-receipt of Annexure-K containing details of previous account j. P.F. settled is incorrect. k. Pension released is lesser than entitlement. l. Pension arrear not remitted. m. Pension not released from due date.

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2.3 Source of Grievances The grievances in EPFO are received either directly from the members (termed as Primary Grievances) or through other sources (termed as Secondary Grievances). The other sources include the following:  VIP (MP, MLA, Ministers, Executives, CBT Members)  Presidents Secretariat  Prime Minister Office  Directorate of Public Grievances  Labour & Employment Minister  Ministry of Labour & Employment As the organisation has been entrusted with extension of social security

benefits to millions of members and their families, grievances are natural to occur due to very nature of work being handled by it. Further nature and scope of grievances in EPFO is very large. All this necessitates for a fully fledged grievance redressal mechanism in the organisation.

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Chapter 3 Literature Review on Grievance Redressal


Grievance handling is a very important and sensitive area of the governments work profile and an important part of any organisations work. It is, none-theless, an area that is, at best, taken for granted and, at worst, grossly neglected by the service providers as it does not fall into the category of "urgent matters". Its importance is very often not appreciated by those who ought to recognise the value of grievances in order to develop a diagnosis of what ails a Government Ministry, Department or agency. It is said that every grievance points to a missed pulse beat somewhere in the organisation, and when grievance-prone areas are identified and analysed, it can frequently prevent "cardiac arrest" or avoid a "moment of truth" for the organisation. One does not have to await public interest litigations and contempt proceedings in a court of law before addressing grievances and grievance-prone areas. This chapter deals with the conceptual framework of grievance redressal mechanism as well as government policy on the redressal of grievances

3.1 Need and Purpose of Grievance Redressal Mechanism While the word grievance can be termed as a complaint or resentment, against an unjust or unfair act, the system to settle that grievance can be termed as Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism (PGRM). Grievance Redressal Mechanisms are institutions, instruments, methods, and processes by which a resolution to a grievance is sought and provided. redress or complaints mechanisms Grievance

can also provide feedback to policy-

makers on service performance. There are a number of specific objectives associated with the use of complaints handling in the public sector, some of which are mentioned as:  promoting accountability in the delivery of services  measuring the quality of service provision and the effectiveness of policy  harnessing experience to improve service delivery 3.1.1 A good internal grievance handling system provides benefits to the organisation: serving as a quick and efficient means of resolving difficulties

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that may arise; promoting good relations and communications with the public; indicating where problems and shortcomings exist in the provision of services and areas that might need improvement; and helping the organisation to avoid unfavourable publicity such as complaints lodged to the media, Ombudsman, etc. Similarly, a good complaints handling system provides benefits to the public: providing a quick, easy and cost-effective means of resolving

difficulties with public bodies; obtaining redress where necessary; fostering a greater sense of inclusiveness or partnership with the public service;

promoting a sense of empowerment in the individual by enabling him/her to have a role in contributing to improvements in the public service; and giving complainants the assurance that their complaints are being taken seriously and that they are being treated properly, fairly and impartially.

3.1.2 Now a days, the empowered and enlightened citizenry is far more demanding services in convenient and comfortable channels. The

Government, therefore, has to develop, evolve and enable itself to meet the evolving demands of the society. A citizen-friendly Government needs to give high priority to redressal of public grievances. Since the Government is also a service provider, it is bound to meet peoples needs and aspirations. Effective and timely redressal of public grievances is a hall mark of responsive and responsible governance. This has become more important after enactment of Right to Information Act, 2005. The society today is not satisfied with the old system of governance as it is not coming up to its expectations. To them, a Government employee is perceived as insensitive, aloof, corrupt and overall the administrative system as autocratic, opaque and with no work culture. Recent movements by civil society against corruption and black money are burning examples of dissatisfaction among the common mass of India. All this necessitates a paradigm shift in governance to a system where the citizen is in the centre and he is consulted at various stages of formulation and implementation of public policy.

3.1.3 In a democratic set up of government, Grievance Redress Mechanism is part and parcel of the machinery of any administration. No administration can

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claim to be accountable, responsive and user-friendly unless it establishes an efficient and effective grievance redressal mechanism. In fact, the grievance redress mechanism of an organization is the gauge meter to measure its efficiency and effectiveness as it provides important feedback on the working of the administration.

3.1.4 Public Complaints Bureau (Annual Report 2005) in Malaysia is a good example of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism which was set up in the year 1971 to resolve complaints efficiently, fairly, and effectively as promised in the PCB Client's Charter. Since the early 1990s increased stress has been put on the need for public organizations to be more pro-active in resolving complaints and appeals at an early stage. The 1991 Citizens Charter in the UK promised better redress for the citizen when things go wrong. In India ministries/departments have been directed to respond in a timely manner to any grievance directed against them in the newspapers and to reply after investigation.

3.2 Government Policy Nation adopted consumer protection legislation the Consumer Protection Act, in 1986. From 1996 onwards a consensus emerged in the Government on effective and responsive administration culminating in the Chief Ministers Conference in May, 1997. One of the major decisions of the Conference was to formulate and operationalise Citizens Charters at the Centre and in the States in sectors which dealt with a large public interface such as railways, telecom, post, public distribution systems, hospitals, etc. 3.2.1 The efforts at the Centre were coordinated under the direction of the Cabinet Secretariat by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievance (DARPG), in consultation with the Department of Consumer Affairs. The DARPG also simultaneously formulated guidelines for structuring a model charter as also lists of dos and donts to guide Government organisations.

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3.2.2 All Ministries/Departments were asked to make information pertaining to their organization available to their users, so far as it was not classified. Separately all classified information was reviewed to see whether its classification was justified or not.

3.3 Structure of Grievance Redress Machinery In the Government of India, the grievances of public are received on various issues. As pointed out in the 29th Redressal Mechanism by the Committee primarily the Report (2008) on Public Grievance

Department-related Parliamentary Standing

on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, there are following three designated nodal agencies in the Central

Government handling these grievances:  Prime Minister Office (PMO)  Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions  Directorate of Public Grievances(DPG), Cabinet Secretariat 3.3.1 The Public Grievances Wing of the PMO A large number of petitions received are given the name of public grievances though their nature varies from case to case which are duly segregated and forwarded to the concerned Ministries/Departments for further necessary action. A few cases, which deserve closer attention, are pursued by the PMO, once again with the concerned Ministry/Department. The Public Wing is placed in the charge of an Officer on Special Duty and the handling of grievances is computerised. 3.3.2 Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) is the nodal agency in respect of policy initiatives on public grievances redress mechanism and citizen-centric initiatives. The role of Department consists primarily to undertake such citizen-centric initiatives in the fields of administration reforms and public grievances in the Government so as to enable the Government machinery to deliver quality public services to the citizen in a hassle-free manner and eliminate the causes of grievance. 3.3.3 Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG), Cabinet Secretariat

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Based on the review of the public grievances redress machinery in Government of India carried out in 1987, the Directorate of Public Grievances was set up in the Cabinet Secretariat with effect from 1st April, 1988. This Directorate was set up initially to look into individual complaints pertaining to four Central Government Departments, which were more prone to public complaints. Subsequently, more Departments having larger public interface were added to its purview and presently this Directorate is handling grievances pertaining to 16 Central Government Organisations.

3.4 Guidelines by DARPG As the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances is the nodal agency for policy making on public grievances, it has issued important guidelines to all Ministries/Departments of the Central Government for handling grievance redress and to strengthen the grievance redress machinery in order to make the administration more responsive to the needs of the people. In order to achieve this, all Ministries and Departments are required to: y Designate a senior officer as Director of Public Grievances/Grievance officer in every office including all organizations under them. y Observe every Wednesday as a meeting less day in the Central Secretariat offices when Director of Public Grievances should be available at their desks from 1000 hrs. to 1300 hrs. to receive and hear public grievances. Field level officers having contact with the public have also to declare one day in the week as a meeting less day. y y Deal with every grievance in a fair, objective and just manner. Analyse public grievances received to help identification of the grievance prone areas in which modification of policies and procedures could be undertaken with a view to making the delivery of services easier and more expeditious. y Issue booklets/pamphlets about the schemes/services available to the public indicating the procedure and manner in which these can be availed and the right authority to be contacted for service as also the grievance redress authority. y Pick up grievances appearing in newspaper columns which relate to them and take remedial action on them in a time bound manner.
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Strengthen the machinery for Redress of Public Grievances through strictly observing meeting less day on every Wednesday, displaying name, designation, room number, telephone number etc. of Director of Grievances at the reception and other convenient places, placing a locked complaint box at reception, and giving more publicity about the grievance redress machinery, etc.

Set up Staff Grievance Redress Machinery and designate a Staff Grievance Redress Officer.

Include the Public Grievances work and receipt/disposal statistics relating to redress of public grievances in the Annual Action Plan and Annual Administrative Report of Ministries/Departments.

Fix time limits for disposal of work relating to public grievances and staff grievances and strictly adhere to such time limits.

Inform complainants the name, designation, office and telephone number of the official who is processing the case. The time frame in which a final reply will be sent should also be indicated.

Constitute Lok Adalats/Staff Adalats, if not already constituted, and hold them every quarter for quicker disposal of public as well as staff grievances and pensioners grievances.

Constitute a Social Audit Panel or such other machinery, if not already constituted, for examining areas of public interface with a view to recommending essential changes in procedure to make the

organization more people-friendly. y Establish a Single window system at points of public contact, wherever possible, to facilitate disposal of applications. y y Issue a reasoned and a speaking reply for every grievance rejected. Quarterly Progress Reports regarding the receipt and disposal of grievances in the Ministry/Department and organizations under it. y Grievances received and disposed of in the Ministry/Department and organizations under it should be monitored by the Joint

Secretary/Director (PG) every month. y Each Ministry/Department should prepare a consolidated directory of officers holding public/staff grievances responsibility in the

Ministry/Department and organizations under it.

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Should give wide publicity of Director (PG) through Citizens Charters, Broadcast of audio-visual capsules, sports, websites; etc.

Focus attention on analysis of public grievances to identify grievanceprone areas and implement systemic changes to reduce grievances.

Brochures/Pamphlets prepared by various Ministries/Departments and their subordinate/attached/autonomous agencies may be kept at accessible contact points including the railway stations, bus stands etc.

Citizens level of satisfaction should be measured on a regular basis.

The mechanism for grievance-handling and its redress in the Government of India attempts to cover all these parameters.

3.5 Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS): In pursuance of the governments objective of accountable, transparent and citizen friendly government, it was decided to establish a speedy and effective grievance redress machinery which gave birth to CPGRAMS. This is an online web-enabled system over NICNET, which has been developed by NIC in association with the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) with an objective of speedy redress and effective monitoring of grievances by the Ministries/Departments/ Organizations of Government of India. It can be accessed at

www.pgportal.gov.in.

Consequent upon the online lodging of grievance by the citizen, the same electronically reaches the concerned Public Grievance officer of respective Ministries/Departments/Organizations of Government of India and State Governments, who makes an assessment of the case and takes up with the concerned Subordinate organizations for an early settlement. The grievance gets redressed by the concerned organization and the same is intimated to the complainant online. The flowchart of grievance redressal can be seen as following:

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Grievance Redressal Flowchart

(Source http://pgportal.gov.in/FlowChart.aspx)

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3.6 Sevottam Model The Second ARC (2009) in its 12th Report Citizen Centric Administration The Heart of Governance has recommended, inter alia, that Union and State Governments should make the Seven Step Model outlined in para 4.9 mandatory for all organizations having public interface which was accepted by the Government of India. Accordingly the DARPG has taken steps to put in place Sevottam Compliant Citizens Charter and Grievance Redress

Mechanism. The Sevottam framework was designed by DARPG in 2006 as an assessment improvement framework for public service delivery.

3.6.1 Sevottam literally is the combination of Hindi words SEWA + UTTAM, meaning uttam sewa i.e. excellence in services. The Sevottam model was developed with expert support after studying international best practices, stake-holder consultations and field validity. It has basically three components i.e. Citizen Charter, Public Grievance Redress Mechanism and Service Delivery Capability as indicated in the following diagram:

a. The first

component

of

the model requires effective charter

implementation thereby opening up a channel for receiving citizens inputs into the way in which organizations determine service delivery requirements. Citizens Charters publicly declare the information on

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citizens entitlements; making citizens better informed and hence empowering them to demand better services. b. The second component of the model, Public Grievance Redress requires a good grievance redress system operating in a manner that leaves the citizen more satisfied with how the organization responds to complaints/grievances, irrespective of the final decision. c. The third component Excellence in Service Delivery, postulates that an organization can have an excellent performance in service delivery only if it is managing the key ingredients for good service delivery well, and building its own capacity to continuously improve delivery.

3.6.2 Initially, Sevottam framework was undertaken from April 2009 to June 2010 in ten Departments of the Government having large public interface. These are, Department of Post, CBEC, CBDT, Railways, Passport office, Pensions, Food Processing, Corporate Affairs, Kendriya Vidyalaya Schools and EPFO. All these organizations have declared standards and implemented in pilot locations. The Project is now being extended to 62 ministries of the Government.

3.6.3 The Performance Management Division of the Cabinet Secretariat has included two modules of the Sevottam framework i.e. Citizen Charter and Public Grievance Mechanism, as mandatory success indicators in the Results Frame Document (RFD) 2010-11 for 62 Ministries/Departments (including the Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as EPFO) approved under Performance Monitoring and Evaluation System (PMES) by the Prime Minister.

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Chapter 4 Grievance Management in EPFO


From the late 1980s, the debate on good governance and its requirements has provided an impetus for new approaches to public sector management reforms. Improvement in opaque government system i.e. making it transparent; control of corruption with emphasis on accountability;

responsiveness to customer needs have been seen as the major aspects of good governance. The World Bank defines good governance as use of power in the management of countrys economic and social resources for development. To the World Bank, good governance consists of a public service that is efficient, a judicial system that is reliable, and an administration that is accountable to the public (World Bank, 1989). Further the concept of New Public Management has shifted the emphasis from traditional public administration to public management (Lane, 1994). NPM theory is an influential model for public sector for effective service delivery; encouraging government to be more efficient and responsive (Hood, 2002). During the last few decades the NPM reforms have been globalised and become an integral part of administration in an organisation like EPFO having interface with millions of people, where the emergence of grievances is inevitable because in such a highly interactive and dynamic service delivery system, there is sufficient scope for any inadvertent or willful harassment being caused to the beneficiaries. Therefore challenge for such organisations is to implement a grievance handling system that effectively meets the needs of citizens and the organisation. Having a good grievance handling system in place in an organisation can also save time and cost down the line. Data published in 2005 by the UKs NAO (National Audit Office) revealed complaints to cost an average of 155 per new case and appeals cases to cost an average of 455 per new case. When independent complaints handlers or ombudsmen were involved then costs were around 1,500 to 2,000. The NAOs report concluded that: Cutting down the initial number of complaints or appeals, resolving more complaints and appeals, resolving more complaints and appeals more speedily and pro-actively, and improving the cost

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efficiency of current redress arrangements, cumulate with every passing year

could all make

appreciable savings in public money, savings which could then

Normally good grievance handling system means:  Being citizen focused  Ensuring that people with complaints can easily access the system  Dealing with people promptly and sensitively, bearing in mind their individual circumstances  Being open and accountable and acting fairly and proportionately  Putting things right when things have gone wrong  Apologising for the mistakes made when an apology is merited. 4.1 Organisational Structure for Handling Public Grievances Keeping in view the importance of grievance handling, a grievance redressal mechanism has been prescribed in each Government organisation and monitoring and evaluation is undertaken from time to time by the nodal agencies too. EPFO being an autonomous body under administrative control of Ministry of Labour & Employment follows the policy formulated by the Government of India in grievance redressal as well. Accordingly a comprehensive grievance redressal mechanism has been set up in EPFO.

4.1.1 Grievances in EPFO can primarily be divided into two categories i.e. complaints of corrupt practices against officers and delay in service delivery to the members. For dealing with complaints against corrupt practices by officers, the organisation has a separate Vigilance Division headed by Chief Vigilance Officer at Head Office and four Zonal Offices headed by Deputy Director, Vigilance. Any complaint of corruption against the officer can be logged with the Vigilance authorities. As regards the redressal of grievances of the members relating to service delivery, EPFO has its own internal

grievance handling systems. The subject matter relating to grievances of the members is looked after by a fully dedicated Customer Service which consists of two-tier structure. Division,

One is at Head Office level headed by

Additional Central Provident Fund Commissioner and assisted by Regional Provident Fund Commissioners, and Public Relation Officer. The other one

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exists at

Field Offices level, headed by

Regional Provident Fund

Commissioners and assisted by Assistant Provident Fund Commissioners and Public Relation Officers. This is shown in the following diagram:

CUSTOMER SERVICE DIVISION


Organisational Structure for handling Public Grievances
Addl. CPFC (CSD) Head Office Head Office RPFC(CSD) Regional Office RPFC-II (CSD) Sub-Regional Offices Sub-Acounts Offices Officer-in-Charge

APFC (CSD)

APFC

Information & Facilitation Centre PRO

Information & Facilitation Centre PRO

Information & Facilitation Centre PRO

4.1.2 The Head Office at New Delhi and all field offices comprising 40 Regional Offices and 80 Sub-Regional Offices across the country are

equipped with full- fledged facilitation centres, Public Relation Officers and supporting staff from where the members can obtain the relevant information as well as get their grievances redressed. The Public Relation Officers at the Reception Counters are available on all working days of week to redress the grievances of the the

visiting members. At the same time, each office to assist the

Public Relation Officers are also available in members asking for any information.

In case the members are not satisfied with the redressal of grievance by the organisation, they have option to approach the external bodies e.g. District Consumer Forum, PMO and DPG etc.

4.2 Mode of Grievance Redressal Occurring of grievances is not a new phenomenon for EPFO. Rather

grievances have been a part and parcel of EPFO since long on account of its peculiar nature of work and large public interface. Therefore, the grievance

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handling mechanism has been in existence in the organisation since long i.e. even prior to the introduction of ICT. However, over the years, the grievance handling system in the organisation has evolved gradually by assimilating the new inventions in the field of ICT. Presently grievance received from

members are handled by adopting conventional mode such as sending the grievance to the concerned office and getting response by post or

telephonically and holding of lok adalats etc, as well as by using the webbased grievance management software. The grievance management EPFO is presently done through the following modes: A. Customer Services Division B. Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats C. Online grievance registration and redressal through web based portal. D. Interactive customer services (A) Customer Services Division i) All grievances received by the Head Office in the Customer Service in

Division are registered and monitored regularly with system support and acknowledgement is sent to the member. Public Relation Officer in the Head Office also attends to the grievances of the members every day and redresses the grievances. The grievances received by CSD in Head Office are registered with a unique PGHS number and forwarded to respective Regional Office/ Sub-Regional Office. While the grievance is redressed by the concerned Regional Office/Sub-Regional Office, Head Office receives the interim report/redressal report and informs the complainant accordingly. ii) The grievances received from the members through various sources relating to the settlement of claims, issue of account slips, matter arising out of non compliance etc., are required to be redressed by the field offices. Feedback of all such grievances obtained from field offices is promptly communicated to the members with the status/disposal of the cases. Special attention is paid for redressing the grievances received from important sources such as Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG), Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances Ministry of Labour &

Employment, Prime Ministers Office, VIPs Vigilance Division, etc.

(MPs, MLAs, CBT members),

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iii) The Public Relation Officers in the Regional/Sub-Regional Offices redress the grievances of the members who visit the offices for redressal. The as Public Relation Officer provides information about the status of the claim well as the status of the complaints filed by the members. iv. The following guidelines have been prescribed by Head Office for handling grievances: y Every complaint/grievance is required to be registered and

acknowledged. y Information required regarding payment of Provident Fund/Pension cases/Status of phone. y Monitoring of the grievance disposal. complaints to be provided across the counter/over

v) The Facilitation Centers have been set up in all the offices of the Organisation. All the prescribed forms for the members of the Fund are available free of cost during working hours. The salient features of a Facilitation Centre are as below: y To provide information regarding Schemes and procedures through brochures, booklets, reports etc. y y y To provide information regarding status of claims/complaints. To receive complaints, issue acknowledgements. Officer of the level of Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner/ Accounts Officer as Public Relation Officer (PRO) to attend to the grievances at the facilitation centre. y Time limits for settlement of claims/petitions, meeting hours of the senior officers are notified through display boards. y Physical facilities have been provided for sitting, drinking water, etc. for the members.

(B) Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats i) For redressal of complex nature of grievances of members of the fund, all Field Offices are required to conduct Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats on 10th of every month and if 10th happens to be a holiday Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats on the next working day. Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats are held regularly inside the
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office premises as well as outside the office premises to reach out to the public far away from the offices. An awareness program for the purpose along with publicity in local newspapers is carried out regularly to invite the grievances from the public.

ii) During the year 2009-10, special emphasis was given on Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats as may be seen from the following table, which contains the details of relating to the Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats during last five years :

TABLE-5
2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

Number of Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats organized

1,259

1,306

1,343

1181

1495

Number of grievances registered before Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats. Number of grievances disposed off by Bhavishya Nidhi Adalats

2,145

2,110

1,565

2764

7436

2,105

2,087

1,543

2654

7257

Percentage

98.14%

98.91%

98.59%

96.02%

97.59%

(C) Online Registration of Grievances and Redressal Governments are increasingly using Information and communication technologies in their daily operations and businesses with the promise of more and convenient service delivery, improved communication,

transparency and

accountability, (Ciborra 2005), and citizen inclusion.

EPFO is trying to make full use of the ICT in its operations. The internet based CPGRAMS, developed redressal mechanism, has and executed by the DARPG, which caters been successfully implemented EPF in the are to all the important Government Organisations in the area of grievance

Employees Provident Fund Organisation also. All regularly attending CPGRAMS cases.

the

Offices

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(D) Interactive Customer Services: Under District Information Access Module (DIAM) District Offices of EPFO were recognized as potential points for disbursement of timely and relevant information to the subscribers of EPFO. Through this module all the district offices working in a Region have been connected to their Regional /Sub Regional Offices to provide frequently inquired information such as issuance of annual account slips, status of claims, monthly pension, etc. DIAM was introduced in all district offices of the country in the year 2007 to act as service centers for providing information to the members in the nearby vicinity. Besides, a few Regional offices have taken the initiative of installing Interactive Kiosks for the benefit of the members to obtain the claim status details in the respective facilitation centers. Some of the Regional Offices have started their own Regional websites in addition to the central website .Through these Regional websites further details are provided regarding the Regional issues and the other connected details for the benefit of the members and the employers.

4.3 EPFiGMS- A Customised Tool for Grievance Handling In view of the peculiar nature of grievances, the Organisation has also strived to develop its own web based online grievance registration and redressal portal called i.e. Employees Provident Fund Internet Grievance Management System (EPFiGMS). It is an internet based grievance management system that has been developed by CSD in collaboration with the NIC, customized to the needs of the organisation. The EPFiGMS has been developed with a view to provide a single window platform that is able to record, acknowledge and track/monitor grievances till its final redressal. The system would not only afford convenience to subscribers to register their grievances/queries without any spatial or temporal restrictions but should also prove to be of immense value to field offices in managing grievances. Subscribers can access the system from anywhere and all paper grievances can also be registered in the system. It is loaded with several advanced features, most important being that movement of registered grievance guided by database which would track the registered grievance to any of the offices to which it might be related. Once a grievance is registered, system would generate a unique registration number and would auto generate acknowledgement letter directly to the subscribers e-mail (if provided).
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EPFiGMS has a well defined escalation plan and allows thirty days time to each office to redress the grievance. If any grievance remains unattended up to thirty days, it would escalate to the next higher authority. In such instances, the subordinate office would become answerable to the higher authority to which grievances are escalated. EPFiGMS consists of two modules namely: (i) Subscriber Module: This module enables the EPFO Subscriber/ Pensioner/Employer: (ii) To lodge their grievances online to the concerned SRO/RO. To lodge online reminder for the past grievances lodged with EPFO. To View the status of their grievances at any point of Time.

Office Module: This is a back office module, exclusively designed for

redress of grievances by Public Grievance officers of the organisation. It enables them:         To forward the grievance online to their sections/divisions in order to redress within permissible time limit. Automatic Escalation of case to higher authority after the lapse of permissible time limit. Easy to use Monitoring Desk for Regional/Zonal/Head Office Facility to generate automated letters based upon the action taken by the PG Officer Facility to upload the scanned document and attach with the grievance Email alert to the concerned Officers to whom the grievance is forwarded. MIS Reports at various level. Search for tracing any grievance in the system.

System also allows handling of grievances involving two or more offices e.g. transfer or pension cases, where on office can provide only partial redressal and remaining needs to be done by other office. For effective implementation of EPFiGMS and monitoring of grievances Nodal Grievance Officers have also been designated as follows:

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y y y

ACC (Zone) Nodal Grievance officer for entire Zone. RPFC-I (In charge of Region)- Nodal Grievance officer for entire Region Officer- In-Charge SRO- Nodal Grievance officer for entire SRO.

Further, as matter of policy, maximum time admissible to a field office for redressal/ reply of grievance in 30 days from the receipt of the grievance. The ownership of the grievance would lie with the office which has generated the grievance. Each paper grievance received locally in the field offices have to be mandatorily registered in the EPFiGMS. It has to be ensured that system is not by-passed in handling local grievances. Hence, necessary logistic

support in this regard may be provided in each office; also facilitation center/ Pro of each field office must be equipped with this system to register grievances of visiting subscribers. 4.4 Monitoring and Review Mechanism: The monitoring and evaluation of the functions of the field offices are regularly undertaken by collecting MIS returns. The Sub-Regional Offices prepare

their MIS returns and these reports are collected at the Regional level and consolidated for monitoring and evaluation at the regional level The reports collected are used for creating a data bank in the Head Office covering information such as profile of establishments, subscribers, analysis of claims, arrears, growth in investments etc. 4.4.1 Apart from the MIS returns, the organization has devised a Annual Business Plan (ABP) proforma by fixing targets in all key result areas to achieve the objective of timely service to the members covering the following three broad areas of operation: a. Enforcement of the Act including recovery of arrears b. Monitoring of public grievances; and c. Service to members, which covers the following areas: y y y y y y y Annual statement of accounts to members Public Grievances Provident Fund Claims Pension Claims Insurance Claim Applications for advance Transfer applications

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4.4.2 These tools facilitate inter alia effective monitoring of service to members and public grievances by higher authorities including CPFC in Head Office. Besides, regular monitoring and review is also held by the MOLE and Directorate of Public Grievances. The concerned officers also review the position by visiting the offices having large number of pending grievances. 4.4.3 Further, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour also conducts on the spot study at the field offices of EPFO and review the overall functioning of the organisation from time to time.

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Chapter 5 Stimulating Effects of Grievances on Organisational Improvement


Improved service delivery is dependent variable that depends on independent variables; procedural simplification and grievance handling mechanism. Improved service delivery can be measured through different indicators like cost-effectiveness, timely service delivery, responsive behaviour to customers, changes in organisational culture and management practices so that the organisation performs more effectively and the granting of greater authority to public sector managers, thus moving decision making closer to the point of delivery and to the stakeholders. In the case of EPFO, standard of service delivery and rising number of grievances have been a cause of major concern for the management of EPFO. The ever increasing workload, lack of sufficient manpower and bureaucratic style of functioning resulted in low standard of service delivery and rise in grievance. Therefore, a need was felt to streamline the functioning of EPFO. The need was further reinforced with the advent and popularisation of the concept of NPM and Business Process Re-engineering. This led to a policy shift in the area of compliance and one of the major policy decisions taken by EPFO was introduction of Compliance 2001 programme which emphasised on voluntary compliance by the employers and led to abolition of Inspector Raj in the organisation. In addition to policy change, it was also realised that the use of advances in information and communication technology (ICT) systems can also provide benefits in terms of better service delivery as well as communicating to customers more effectively. Therefore, keeping in view of the role of ICT, the EPFO decided to adopt BPR in its functioning and launched an ambitious project Re-inventing EPF, India. 5.1 Re-inventing EPF, India Project With a Vision to transform itself into a world-class social security organisation, the EPFO had launched an ambitious project namely Re-inventing EPF, Information Systems Ltd. (SISL).

India in the year 2001 and entrusted the task of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) to M/s. Siemens

The said project titled Re-inventing EPF, India was designed to provide

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hassle free service to the stakeholders, to achieve Anytime-Anywhere facility to the subscriber and to settle the claims within two to three days. 5.1.1 To implement the project, in the first phase SIX field offices were selected across the country and they were named as Pilot Offices. It was

also decided to implement the project at these six pilot offices in the first phase and then rolling out to other filed offices. Under this project, every covered establishment (Exempted as well as Un-exempted establishment) under PF Act, 1952 was to be allotted a 13 digit unique numeric code number i.e. a Business Number (BN) which would replace the existing code number(s) allotted to the establishment. Further each Member of EPF was proposed to be allotted a 14 digit unique ID in form of a Social Security Number (SSN) 5.1.2 Unfortunately the project could not prove a success due to many reasons. The application software was delivered by the consultant i.e. SISL in June, 2006. The modules relating to Coverage, Establishment

Accounting, Member Accounting, General Ledger Accounting, Claims, Pension and Payments observations, out etc., which were delivered by SISL had 2900

of which 71 observations were considered critical and

SISL was asked to take up these observations on priority to implement the software at the pilot offices. 5.1.3 On receiving the application patches for the 71 critical observations, it was decided to conduct a sanity test of the application under full environment. The pilot office at Indore was selected for this Indore revealed several production

purpose. However, sanity test operations at

shortcomings in the application software pointing towards design rigidities and failure of the consultants to anticipate likely issues and to provide remedial solution. 5.1.4 In order to arrive at a technically feasible solution, the intervention and technical discussion advice of Director General, NIC was sought. NIC had

with EPFO and SISL where the outlines of the possible However, the SISL submitted the change

solutions were laid down.

request documentation and communicated constraints on their part to carry out any further changes without determining the change

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management efforts and costing delay liability. In view of these

through a mutually agreed method for all developments, it was decided to take

the past and currently proposed changes. Besides, SISL also sought the

steps to terminate the Agreement with SISL and to approach the DG:NIC for support so that expertise and resources of NIC are utilised to the modernisation project. 5.2 Computerization Project Thus the modernization project Re-inventing EPF India launched by the organisation resulted in failure and litigation with the SISL. However, as the project had raised peoples expectations for better service standards by the EPFO, it was essential that the aspirations of stakeholders are fulfilled. Therefore, keeping in view this fact as well as rapid growth leading to huge volumes, a Computerization Project was taken up to address challenges of providing efficient, accessible and timely services to subscribers and employers. The Central Board of Trustees, EPF in its 182nd meeting held continue

on 17-Apr-08 re-affirmed its commitment to ensure the implementation of the project to its logical end and decided to take technical assistance of NIC for the Computerisation Project and Memorandum of Understanding with NIC was signed on 04 June 2008. 5.2.1 The Project is being implemented in phases in collaboration with NIC. The first phase provides basic services to members and establishments in a decentralized manner without affecting normal working while the second phase will provide anytime-anywhere service when data is centralized. The Project aims to facilitate an environment of transparency and responsiveness which are the essence of all e-governance projects. The salient features of this project are as mentioned below: Phased implementation Development and Stabilization of application software in all EPFO offices Achieve turn out time for claim settlement to 2-3 days Access to members to their accounts and other value added services Provide Business Number and Social Security Number Standardisation
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A Study of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

To ultimately ensure consolidation of all financial transactions and other operations at central location to provide any time any where services

To ensure establishment of double entry book keeping system in EPFO. To ensure certification of application modules by a Third Party. 5.2.2 On full implementation of the first phase, the Provident Fund members will be able to view their PF balances and status of their claims on Similarly, the employers will get a facility to view the

internet.

compliance status of their establishments on internet. In the first of the project, the application software has 7 modules i.e. Data Migration, Establishment, Member, Claims, pension, payment and System Administration Module. Steady progress has been achieved since the implementation phase in most of the offices. of the first

5..2.3 Functionalities in the new system The application software in the first phase covers all the member and establishment focused services and include inter-alia, the following:

(a) Claims settlements: All types of claims preferred by members

under the

three schemes are processed under the new system viz. PF Claims, advances; pension related both as withdrawal benefits and monthly pensions well as those related to Death cases under EDLI Scheme.

(b) Annual Accounts preparation: The preparation of annual statement of accounts with interest processing for the year is handled by the system. The process involves reconciliation of dues in respect of members and the remittances made by the employers.

(c) Cash Book preparation: Cash books for both the receipts and payments are prepared through the system.

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(d) Member Profile management: All the entries of member profile including family and nomination details under the three schemes are handled by the system

(e) Establishment accounting: The receipts of contributions, various returns submitted by the establishments are handled by the system.

(f) Member Enquiry (Claim status & Member Balance): Enquiries on the status of claims and member balances are provided in the system. Presently the available and running in the local systems. Post wide area

module is

network in place, the information will be made available on the official website of EPFO. 5.2.4 Other Services Planned The following other services that would enhance quicker and more efficient

services are also planned:(a) Member registration through website: The member profile details are provided by members through their respective employers. These details include members profile details like date of birth, date of joining etc. and include family members and nomination details. It is proposed to web-based facility provide a

for member and employers to register their profile details

with EPFO which would be used to facilitate various add on services at a later date in addition to creating a strong data base. (b) Electronic submission of returns by employers: A web based system for electronic submission of returns by employers is being contemplated. (c) Payments through NEFT mode: With application software it would be possible to electronically credit members/subscribers account in the

shortest time. This would be a significant improvement over the current practice of issuing individual hours. cheques that consumed avoidable man

5.2.5 Progress Made The first phase of the project has almost been completed and it has resulted in a figure:
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success story. The major achievements are indicted in the following

A Study of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

First Phase Achievements

Expectations All offices to computerized

Achievements be 119 offices have been computerised. Keonjhar the remaining office is waiting for lack of proper office space

Reduced Claims Nearly 64% claims being settled within 30 days settlement period. Reduced data entry at A return tool in place to collect uploadable data the individual offices in soft form from employers Basic Security operations in Achieved: Access Control, Identification and Authentication, Data Integrity (ORACLE RDBMS) In Progress: 3rd Party Audit (STQC)

Integrated office wise Single database is in place at each office, data base integrating old application modules on individual servers. Internet based enquiry Launched with effect from 1st July, 2011 for member balances

Additional Achievements

Activity NEFT mode Payments (Letters replaced SMS)

Benefits of Payment credit time reduced from 15-20 days to < 3 days . By 13th June Payments through by NEFT has reached 62%. 9,56,241 NEFT X Rs 15 (Postal Charges) = Rs 1,91,24,820 Savings since 10.03.2011.

Auto reconciliation of Daily Reconciliation is possible with Bank cash books (Receipt Statements, received over Email with Challan deposited by Employers. and Payment)

Improvement in Process of Transfer of PF Accounts on Change of Employment E-challan and Bank Statement from State Bank of India

Process of Transfer of Accounts is now improved with provision for transfer of funds with aid of NEFT Challans Data Upload doing away with Physical copies, dispensing Challan data entry at EPFO. 09 offices having this facility. Expected in all offices soon.

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5.2.6 The second phase of the project is aimed to:  Introduce Integrated Monthly Return for monthly updation of Member Balances in contrast to Annual Updating  Introduce web based access to Establishments for compliance  Introduce Compliance & Coverage modules. Computerize Personnel Management  Introduce uniqueness to member accounts for instant PF transfers upon change of Employment  Introduce Customer Relations Management (CRM) & Improve Grievance Redressal System  Introduce double Entry Financial Accounting System integrated with Investment module.  Graduate to any time any where Services to PF members and Establishments

5.3 Impact on Service Delivery and Grievances Enhanced quality of service provision has been a major component of public administration reform over the last decades and the use of ICT to generate improvements has been a primary driver for E-Government activity. Online public services are increasingly seen as part of a broader service (improvement) strategy, with important customer and efficiency benefits. The initiatives made by EPFO have also proved resulted in organisational improvement and better service delivery. This can from the following facts: be seen

a. Procedures for settlement of claims have been computerised. All claims are now be entered and processed through the software designed for claim settlement. b. NEFT has been introduced in all offices. This has resulted in financial saving as well as early transfer of money in the account of

claimants. Earlier the amount of claim was used to be sent through cheques. This mode not only resulted in delay in credit of the amount to the claimants account but also caused grievances on account of loss of cheques etc.

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c. The facility Know Your Claim Status enables the members to know the status of claims submitted by them in the field offices. d. Recently another service Know Your EPF Balance launched by the organisation enables members to find out amount of PF accumulations in their account e. In the field of grievance management, implementation of EPFiGMS, the tool for registering grievances online and use of sms facility is another important step taken by the organisation.

EPFO has been striving to meet the new challenges for improving service delivery to its members through the intensive use of available on ICT. According to data

official website http://www.epfindia.com, 16,95,534 claims have

been settled and a record number of account slips i.e. 6,70,20,632 have been issued in the current year till 20.7.2011.

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Chapter 6 Data Analysis and Findings of the Study


Performance of an organisation can be gauged by the service it delivers to its clients and customers. In fact there is a co-relation between the performance and service delivery i.e. higher the performance, better the service delivery and vice versa. Grievances emerging in an establishment do not necessarily mean a dismal performance of an organisation; rather it indicates the awareness among customers about their rights and it is a healthy sign for finding out the grey areas and taking remedial measures to tackle the problem.

EPFO is going to complete six decades of unblemished records. Serving millions of people round the year throughout their service period and after retirement is not an easy task. Over the years, the organisation is evolving to meet the expectations of its stakeholders and striving to provide world class service to them. Though the efforts taken by EPFO for business reengineering in the year 2001 onwards could not succeed as desired, the organisation has kept its commitment to provide dedicated service to the members without having adverse effect of the setback resulting from the shelving of the modernization project.

For finding out the effectiveness of PGRM in EPFO, primary as well as secondary data need to be taken into consideration. This has been done in the following paragraphs.

6.1 Analysis of Survey Result For the purpose of collecting the relevant data on Public Grievance Handling Mechanism in EPFO, the Questionnaire designed is annexed as Appendix.

Basically the opinion of the members visiting in Regional/Sub Regional Offices and Head Office of EPFO was sought on the following issues:   Whether they were aware of the benefits available to them under social security legislation; What was the type of their grievance;
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A Study of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

         

Whether they were aware how to lodge their grievance; Whom did they approach for redressal of grievance; In what way the grievance was lodged by them; How long they had been pursuing their grievance; What was the response on their grievance; Whether they were aware of registration of grievance website of EPFO through EPFiGMS tool; on the

Whether the website of EPFO is user friendly; Who was approached to get their grievance redressed; What in their view was the main cause of grievance not being redressed; and How much satisfied they were with the service/response of the EPFO/concerned officer.

They were also requested to make suggestion for improvement in Grievance Redressal System of the organization. 6.1.1 For the purpose of survey, the persons belonging to all age group and with varying educational qualifications have been taken into consideration.

While conducting the survey of opinion, it was observed that 20% of the persons contacted for the purpose declined to participate in the survey due to one or the other reasons. 6.1.2 Out of the persons who participated in the survey, it was observed that all the persons visiting offices of EPFO did not come there for the purpose of redressal of grievance; rather it was found that around 9% visited for seeking some information or collection of forms, etc. 6.1.3 On analysis of samples of the data collected through survey, the salient points which have y emerged are as under:

More than half of the grievances i.e. 63 % were related to delay in settlement of Provident Fund while the Grievance relating to transfer of PF accumulations from previous to current account ranked second i.e. 15%. Grievances relating to loss of cheques and pension claims were found around 6% each.

Around 50% persons were found aware as how to lodge their grievances while 25% were not aware at all about the process of registering

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grievance. The remaining 25% were aware to some extent only. It was also observed that most of the members approached officials/ officers of EPFO personally for redressal of their grievance. The percentage of EPFO was

persons using web based grievance redressal mechanism found quite low i.e. around 6 % y

In most of the cases (i.e. 60%), the aggrieved members approached EPFO in the first instance for redressal of their grievance. Less than 10% lodged their grievances through formal letters. No case of relating to

Bhavishya Nidhi Adalat was recorded. It was also observed that most of the cases, the aggrieved person approached either the PRO or Official dealing with the case. The percentage of people approaching Officer- incharge was also found quite low (i.e. 6%). y As regards the pendency of grievance cases it was observed that the percentage of grievance pending for less than one month, between 1-3 months and more than 3 months was almost equal. It was also observed that in 25% cases the grievance was lodged within a period of one month. y All the new grievances of the persons visiting in Head Office were registered and acknowledgements given to the members. Approximately 10% of grievances were redressed immediately in respect of such persons. In the remaining cases, updated status of the grievance was also apprised to the members. y Only 30 % persons were aware that grievance can be registered through website of the organisation. Further, majority of the persons found official website user friendly. y As regards the reason for pendency of grievances, it was found that in 15% of cases, it was non co-operation by the employer. In 20% cases, the members did not get full co-operation from the side of EPFO. It was also reported that in 10% of cases in complete document was the main reason for pendency of grievance. y The questionnaire also included a question as to whether the members were satisfied with the facilities available at PRO counter and attitude of the officers/PRO of the concerned office. Majority of the participants of survey expressed their satisfaction. However in certain cases attitude of PRO was not found satisfactory. In a few cases the members were not found satisfied with overall grievance handling by EPFO.
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Suggestions were also invited for improvement in the grievance redressal mechanism; however 90% of the participants did not mention any suggestion. A few suggestions given by some persons were of general nature and did not mention any specific recommendations.

6.1.4 On personal interview with the concerned officer dealing with Customer Service Division in Head Office of EPFO, it was also revealed that the number of grievances was more in respect of big offices like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata etc, where the workload was quite heavy. Further, it was also mentioned that the officers in the field offices are holding multiple charge of

other important work area e.g. compliance, finance and accounts, hence they are not able to concentrate solely on grievance handling. Besides, corrupt practices in the organisation were also considered as one of the causes for rise in number of grievances.

6.2 Analysis of Secondary Data For evaluating the functioning of grievance handling mechanism in EPFO, it is considered appropriate to take into account the manpower, the performance in service delivery in the context of number of grievance handled and disposed of by EPFO. For this purpose, comparative position for a period of five years in these areas would give a fair idea about the working of grievance management in the organisation.

(i) Manpower As per Annual Reports of the organisation, the manpower position including officers and staff for the last five years is as mentioned below:

Year

2005-06 18725

2006-07 19510 (23344)

2007-08 19137 (23430)

2008-09 19508 (25809)

2009-10 19175 (24152)

Total Manpower (23276)

(The figures in the brackets indicate the sanctioned strength)

It may be observed from the figures that the number of manpower has risen from 18725 in 2005-06 to 19175 in 2009-10. Though there was an increase of
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2.4% in manpower, the staff in position has always been lower than the sanctioned strength. It means that there has always been a lack of requisite manpower in the organisation.

(ii) Service Delivery Indicators For the sake of simplicity we can measure service delivery in terms of output given by the organisation in the form of settlement of claims and issue of Annual Statement of Accounts i.e. account slips. Based on Annual Reports, the comparative figures come out to be as following: TABLE 6
Number of Claims Settled (Un-exempted) 2005-06 Provident Fund Claims Partial Withdrawal/ Advances Transfer Cases Monthly Pension Claims (MPC) Employees' Pension Claims (all other benefits) E.D.L.I Claims Total 22.44 2006-07 25.76 2007-08 29.30 (In lakhs) 2008-09 34.73 2009-10 36.60

4.07 1.77 3.34

3.59 2.16 3.63

3.33 2.30 3.54

3.22 2.80 4.10

2.87 3.17 4.20

19.71

19.29

20.95

26.59

31.13

0.19 48.18

0..20 51.00

0.21 59.63

0.20 71.64

0.21 78.18

TABLE 7
Annual Statement of Accounts Issued during the year Pending 537.56 331.82 524.59 312.43 393.83 361.19 (in lakhs) 584.93 426.22 653.54 473.54

(Up-dated position in account slips facilitates faster settlement of claims)

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It is quite clear from the above tables that the service delivery in terms of settlement of claims and issue of account slips has been on rise year by year. The rise in settlement of claims from 48.18 lakh in 2005-06 to 78.18 lakh in 2009-10 shows a remarkable increase of 48.48%

(iii) Grievance scenario The comparative statement in respect of figures in respect of grievances at the beginning of year, received during and disposed of the year is indicated below: TABLE 8
2005- 06 Grievances pending at the beginning of the year Received during the year Total Disposed of during the year Balance at the end of the year Percentage of Disposal 5,171 38,982 44,153 41,189 2,964 93.29% 2006- 07 2,964 44,685 47,649 44,937 2,712 94.31% 2007-08 2,712 27234 29,946 28476 1470 95.00% 2008-09 1,470 19912 21382 20077 1305 93.90% 2009-10 1305 17551 18856 17809 1047 94.45%

(Source Annual Report of the EPFO)

The figures in the above table indicates that though the year 2006-07 has witnessed an increase in the number of grievances received compared to the previous year ,the number of grievances received in the subsequent Further the number of pending

years has shown a steady decrease.

grievances at the end of these years has also reduced year by year. 6.3 Overview of Grievance Handling In ESIC under the Ministry of Labour &

ESIC is another autonomous body

Employment set up under the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 which envisaged an integrated need based social insurance scheme that workers in contingencies such as sickness, physical disablement, death due to or earning capacity. The Act
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would protect the interest of

maternity, temporary or permanent

employment injury resulting in loss of wages

A Study of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

also guarantees reasonably good medical care to immediate dependants.

workers

and

their

6.3.1 The Employees State Insurance Scheme, being a multi-pronged service intensive Social Security programme for workers, an estimated 10 lakh beneficiaries visit the service outlets at the grass root level daily. In pursuance of the instructions issued by the DPG, the ESIC has been making all out

efforts for speedy redressal of Public Grievances and accordingly has set up the Public Grievances Redressal System at all levels.

6.3.2 For ensuring expeditious disposal and speedy redressal of public grievances under the ESI Scheme various measures have been taken by the its

the Corporation. The Corporation has taken measure to strengthen internal Grievance handling Machinery by imparting required training to officers and Staff. Thrust has also been given to build up work environment in the field offices and establishments.

a client friendly

6.3.3 The concerned officers have been instructed to

give top priority to the six weeks to visit

applications received from DPG or Ministry and settle it within as per instructions of Cabinet Secretariat. They have been asked

website www.pgportal.gov.in on day to day basis and dispose of complaints online relevant to their office through CPGRAM. A weekly report pendency of online grievances is sent to Ministry on the

6.3.4 To make the Scheme user friendly and to give necessary guidance to stakeholders and beneficiaries, a Toll Free Help Line bearing No. 1800-112526 has been activated (since 7th December, 2006). A total 3445 calls has been received from 01.04.2010 to 31.10.2010. These calls are of varied in nature i.e. ESIC also starting from seeking information to registering complaint. The proposes to launch a 24 hours toll free number at Headquarters provide 247 services in handling beneficiaries issues.

Office shortly to

6.3.5 According to Labour Ministrys Annual Report (2010-11), the details of grievances processed by ESIC during the period from 01.01.2010 to 30.09.2010 is as under:-

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Sl. No. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Grievances Balance of unsettled grievances as on 01.10.2009. Grievances received from 01.01.2010 to 30.09.2010 Total Grievances settled during the period from 01.01.2010 to 30.09.2010 572 2047 2619 2189

5.

Unsettled grievances as on 30.09.2010

430

6.3.6 The IIPA (2006) in its study report has, however, pointed out that the major grievance-prone areas in ESIC are: harassment by ESI hospital staff, particularly doctors and nurses, misbehaviour on the part of ESI hospital staff, lack of doctors, nurses inadequacy of ESI hospital beds as compared to the rush of patients and lack of medicines at ESI hospitals and dispensaries, particularly in the OPD units. A large number of the existing grievances, however, remain unregistered due to either ignorance or lack of time, or sometimes due to the lack of public trust in the redress possibilities.

6.4 Summary On study of grievance handling mechanism in EPFO and ESIC, it is seen that both the organisations being autonomous bodies under the administrative control of central government follow the policy guidelines issued by the Government of Indian from time to time. Both the organisations have comprehensive redressal system having positive and negative aspects. However, what lacks in both the organisations is that no study on Customer s Satisfaction Index has been carried out.

As regards the functioning of PGRM in EPFO, on the basis of comparative analysis of secondary data obtained from Annual Reports of the organisation for the last five years, it is observed that in-spite of shortage in staff and various other constraints, the performance of the organisation has improved year by year not only in terms of service delivery indicators but also there has been a decrease in the number of grievances received in the organisation. Nonetheless, primary data indicate the areas of weakness e.g. delay in settlement of claims, lack of awareness among members about dedicated system of grievance handling, lack of proper attitudes among the
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A Study of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

officers dealing with grievances etc., which require appropriate action to make the grievance handling system more effective. Thus it can be said that there is no end to improvement and still a lot remains to be done. This will be discussed in the following chapter.

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Chapter 7 Suggestions and Recommendations


Grievance Redressal Mechanism is a platform provided by the governance institution to the citizens to voice their dissatisfaction about poor or inadequate performance of the institution and hold it accountable for the same. On the one hand, there is the need to sensitize the service provider and, on the other, it is necessary to create a climate of civic and social responsibility among "citizens", not merely "consumers" or "customers. Without a good complaint redressal system, Citizens Charters have no meaning. Therefore, an organisation needs to establish highly credible & responsive complaints procedures and redressal system.

7.1 Features of an Efficient Grievance Handling System The most efficient grievance handling systems provide transparent, accessible information on the processes or systems involved in grievance

handling in order to enable ease of access for citizens when they are unhappy or have not received satisfactory service or treatment. Effective grievance handling systems not only outline the organisations internal grievance handling systems but also provide information on external bodies who can deal with the issue if redressal has not been achieved satisfactorily for the complainant at a local level. An efficient Grievance

Handling System should have the following features: y y y It should be easily accessible and well publicised It should be simple to understand and use It should be speedy, with established time limits for action and keeping people informed of progress y y y It should be able to keep people informed of progress It should be fair, comprehensive and impartial in its investigation It should be confidential, to maintain the confidentiality of both the staff and the complainant y It should be informative, providing information to top

management so that services can be improved

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It should be able to categorize and set out the volume of complaints, broken down by different categories

y y

It should be able to include an analysis of response time and It should include of lodging the grievances through various modes namely, written (application / form),verbal (through help desk etc.), telephone, SMS (mobile), internet and other informal routes

last but not least it should be able to Inform the complainant of the proposed or taken action

Further, if a complaint system is to be effective and efficient,

simply having

procedures may not be enough. It is more important that staff have the right attitude towards handling the grievances. Citizens Charter-A Handbook

(2008) by Centre for Good Governance provides a deep insight on complaint redressal system.
7.1.1 The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Guidelines for

Complaints Handling in Organisations addresses the following aspects of complaints handling:  Enhancing customer satisfaction  Recognising and addressing the needs and expectations of complainants  Providing an open, effective and easy-to-use complaints process  Analysing and evaluating complaints to improve service quality  Auditing the complaints handling process  Reviewing the effectiveness and efficiency of the complaints handling process. Whatever the size and nature of the department, and the profile of its customers, a complaints handling mechanism that has addressed the key the ISO will not go far wrong.

points covered by

7.1.2 In the UK an important guiding point regarding complaints handling is

stressed in the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (2008) report When Citizens Complain (http://www.parliament.the-stationeryoffice.co.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmpubadm/409/409.pdf), which suggests that public services need to adopt the perspective of citizens who use them.

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7.1.3 In the context of above fact, an analysis of Grievance Handling System in EPFO reveals that it fulfils most of the requirement and features Grievance Handling System. Formation of a fully dedicated Service Division for handling grievances, devising an internet of a good Customer

based software for lodging and monitoring grievances, organisation of Lok Adalats makes it a comprehensive redressal system. The intensive use of ICT in the service delivery and the recent outcomes tell the success story of the sincere efforts made by the providing organisation towards its commitment for

world class service to the stakeholders. Nonetheless there are

certain areas which call for supplementary efforts to make the grievance handling system more effective. For example, the IIPA (2008) on analysis of the grievance redressal mechanism in EPFO has recommended inter-alia: In many of these cases, information dissemination about the requirements (i.e. deficiencies causing grievances) can help resolve the problems. In some others, procedural changes may be required. PG Cell may make a systematic review of procedures and information dissemination practices to address these. 7.2 Suggestions and Recommendations There is a very famous saying that prevention is better than cure. This is true in respect of grievance management also. Grievance prevention strategy involves a proactive approach towards identification of grievance prone areas and grievance patterns, analyzing these and addressing policy and procedural changes to avert the very emergence of grievances. The objective of grievance prevention in the organisation can be achieved by strengthening the Customer Service Division in Head Office as well as in Field Offices in terms of personnel and resource support, including technology and human resource development for actively addressing redress and prevention possibilities. This is all the more necessary in view of the insertion of special provisions relating to International Workers recently. Further it is also important to improve the overall responsiveness, transparency and

accountability of administration to the stakeholders, making intensive use of information and communication technology for the purpose. 7.2.1 There are economic arguments for resolving complaints as quickly as possible. The earlier complaints are resolved, the cheaper it is for everyone.
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Keeping in view this fact, efforts are being made by EPFO to redress the grievance at the initial stage. The relevant instructions are issued by the organisation from time to time. For strengthening and streamlining of grievance redressal mechanism, the organisation has issued comprehensive instructions (Circular 6th Jan, 2009). 7.2.2 On the basis of findings arrived at by analysing the relevant data

gathered from the documents, survey opinion, Annual Reports of the organisation and detailed as well as intensive discussions with the concerned officers of the EPFO, the following measures are suggested/recommended: (I) General a. Most of the people are not aware of the dedicated system of grievance redressal existing in EPFO and its field offices. Further though all out efforts are being made by EPFO to improve service delivery and redressal of grievances, people are not very much aware of it. Therefore, wide publicity to create awareness regarding the facility available and redressal mechanism etc. among people is the need of the hour. b. With a view to make grievance handling system more responsive, higher officers particularly the officer-in-charges must provide access to the common persons. c. As the affected persons are not very much educated, spoken language of the concerned office should be used. d. In case when the grievance is not time, an redressed within the stipulated automated system to inform the aggrieved person regarding

status of the grievance should be in position. e. Dissatisfaction about the attitude of the PROs and concerned officials of the organisation has been reported in many cases by the respondents in survey. Hence there is a need to bring about a total change in the behaviour of public servants towards redressal of public grievances. Besides, the PROs should have the knowledge and capability to handle the grievances. For example, the PRO in Head Office hardly has the practical knowledge of field functioning where the grievances take place.

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f. There is a need to monitor the grievance redressal seriously and keep receipt-redressal-reply cycle going on at all levels in a continuous quality improvement (CQI) mode. g. All offices must be made accountable for timely redressal of public grievances under their jurisdiction. h. The database relating to the grievances needs to be analysed regularly to understand the nature, volume, causes, etc., of the complaints and to find out the remedial measures to deal with the situation. i. In the survey result it has been found that more than 60% grievances pertain to PF settlement cases only. In this context, a tendency has been analysed particularly in the poor and in the young members that they prefer to withdraw their PF accumulations on leaving the service instead of getting it transferred to their new accounts. This tendency not only increases the volume of settlement cases and resulting grievance there from but also deprives them and their families of the real social security benefits in case of demise. Thus an awareness campaign needs to be undertaken for this purpose. j. Since the heavy workload in bigger offices have been observed one of the reasons for public grievance, it would be appropriate to bifurcate bigger offices into smaller ones so that the work is managed properly and grievances level comes down as a result of better service delivery. k. Redressal mechanism should be encouraged to provide feedback periodically for the management of systemic reform. For this purpose EPFO may consider setting up independent agency. (II) Specific a. Though various forms have been devised by the organisation for use by the employers and beneficiaries, there is no prescribed form for filing a complaint. Therefore, it is suggested that a standard complaint form for filing a grievance be devised. This form should be user friendly in local language and widely available at PRO counters. b. The organisation should provide the facility of a P.O. Box where member can send a grievance letter without stamp. c. As has been done by ESIC, a Toll Free No. needs to be provided in the organisation for registration of grievances by the members from any location.
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d. There is a need to bring about a total change in the attitude of public servants towards redressal of public grievances at all levels and to pinpoint responsibility for action against grievances of the people. One step towards bringing in attitudinal change lies in improving the motivational levels of public servants through rewarding good work and awarding effective suggestions and punishing deliberate negligence. In this context Gift Formula devised by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller in A Complaint Is A Gift: using customer feedback as a strategic tool has been found extremely useful and recommended strongly. e. Appropriate training need to be given for staff with particular responsibilities for grievance handling. The seat of PRO should be handled by a person having humane and empathic approach, who can understand the problems of others. f. Except in Head Office, sufficient printed material brochure, leaflets etc. containing information for the benefit of members was not found at the PRO counters of SROs. Therefore, appropriate action for providing relevant material in local language is also required specifically. g. Effective and regular monitoring of grievance particularly pending for more than one month should also be done by the officers concerned at all levels. The officer in charge should declare one day in the week when he can be accessed directly for redressal of long pending grievances. h. There is a need to include quality control measures in the handling of grievances and Monitoring customer feedback to enhance a quality response. Further, a Performance Audit of Customer Grievance Management should also be undertaken for finding out the weakness and strength of the existing grievance handling system.

7.3 Conclusion Summing up, grievances are a fact of life. As the grievances are inevitable, they must be taken seriously by an organisation. Though grievances depict deficiency in service delivery, they can stimulate organisational improvement and transformation of governance maxim. A good grievance handling can defuse a crisis but the price of failure is high. Therefore, it is in the interest of an organisation to have an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

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Grievance handling is a specialist task but Central to Grievances handling is the principle of empathy with the complainant and recognition of the persons concerns. This involves actions such as dealing with the complaint as speedily as possible, careful listening, and apologising when the organisation commits fault. The most efficient grievance handling system provides transparent, accessible information on the processes or systems involved in
grievance handling in order to enable ease of access for citizens when they

are unhappy or have not received satisfactory service or treatment.

An

effective grievance handling is not just about value for money, it is about establishing a responsive relationship between the apparatus of the organisation and the people who use this apparatus. The structure of any
grievance handling system must incorporate the needs of the stakeholders as

paramount and integral to the effective administration and delivery of grievance handling systems to ensure that treatment is fair and equitable to all aggrieved in a transparent and easily accessible system. For the organisation, the structure of any grievance handling system must avoid the blame game. Instead it should provide a supportive environment in which staff can learn from mistakes, improve service or treatment, and realise the learning potential of grievances to deliver quality, citizen-centered public services. Further a good grievance handling is also about seeking continuous improvement, using feedback and lessons learnt to improve service design and delivery. If the suggestions and recommendations made above are considered and implemented by the authorities in the EPFO, it can transform the organisation into a social security provider in true sense and enable it to achieve the

goals articulated in its mission statement, which reads; The mission of Employees Provident Fund Organization is to extend the reach and quality of publicly managed old-age income security standards of

programs through consistent and ever-improving

compliance and benefit delivery in a manner that wins the approval and confidence of stakeholders in our methods, fairness, honesty and economic and social well-

integrity, thereby contributing to the being of Indians.

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