he government has expanded the number of people eligible for Employees’ State Insurance (ESI), which provides medical care to industrial workers and their dependents, by increasing the salary cap of beneficiaries to Rs25,000 from Rs15,000, ignoring opposition from employers.
The labour ministry’s move, which sceptics say is politically motivated as it comes in the run-up to a round of state elections and a national election next year, will directly benefit an additional 4.5 million industrial workers.
The revision in the ceiling means that all industrial workers who draw a salary of up to Rs.25,000 will benefit from medical and hospitalization facilities at more than 1,550 clinics and hospitals that the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) runs directly or has a tie-up with. Every month, eligible employees contribute 1.75% of their salary and employers contribute 4.75% to the ESI corpus.
“It will benefit millions of our industrial workers across India. Besides workers, it is their families who will also benefit from the increase in ceiling,” labour minister Sis Ram Ola said on Friday.
The decision was taken despite objections from employers’ representatives at a closed-door meeting in Delhi on Thursday. +
The last increase in the salary ceiling for ESI was made in May 2010, when it was raised to Rs.15,000 from Rs.10,000. Currently, around 15 million workers directly benefit from the employees’ insurance provisions, and after the revision, the total number of insured people will increase to 20 million. If one includes beneficiaries from the families of the insured workers, at least 65 million people, largely in urban areas, will benefit from the scheme.
3rd October 2013 From India, Bangalore