[APFC/EPFO] Exam strategy & Job profile by Shikhar Sharma (Rank-37 | APFC-2012)Devendra Vishwakarma
- Profile of APFC Officer
- Strategy for Written Test of APFC
- Changes for Avg. Student?
- Journey of Civils / APFC alongside Job
- Service Profile
- What is EPFO?
- Overview of Service:
- Role & Function of PF Commissioners
- Enforcement, Exemption & Recovery:
- Quasi Judicial Authority
- Finance & Accounts, Banking, Pension, Legal
- Customer Service
- Vigilance & Audit
- EPFO: Concluding Remarks
- Guru Gyaan : Wisdom
Hello friends, myself Shikhar Sharma, I hail from a middle service class family. My father is an Engineer in the Water Resources Department, Govt. of M.P, mother a housewife. I have one younger brother and one younger sister.
- I am presently Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner (APFC) in Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), a statutory body under Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India.
- I am a Direct Recruit APFC from 2012 Batch for which written exam was conducted by UPSC in September-2012, interview around June 2013 and results published on 16-Aug-2013.
- UPSC has issued notification in June-2015 for recruitment of 170 posts of APFCs in EPFO, the written test for which will be held on 10-Jan-2015. I am tempted to write this article with the twin purpose of sharing my experience during the journey of preparations of civils and APFC exam along with the information about the job profile of APFC for benefit of all aspirants.
Profile of APFC Officer
|Rank in APFC 2012||37|
|Marks obtained out of 200 (Written (100) / Interview (100))||70/71 (Total – 141)|
|Age||30 (At the time of selection)|
|Home Town||Satna (M.P.)|
|Work Experience||5 Years work experience in TCS as I.T. Analyst (Hyderabad) & 3.5 Years in CSIR, Ministry of S&T as Section Officer (CASE 2009 Batch) (Chennai, Bhopal)|
|Details of Coaching||Brain Tree, Hyderabad – Pub Ad & Anthropology for Civils.|
% in Class 10th70 / Mennonite Senior Secondary School, Dhamtari (C.G.)
|% in Class 12th||61 / Mennonite Senior Secondary School, Dhamtari (C.G.)|
|Graduation||B.E. (Electronics & Communication)
|College, City , Passing Out Year||GRKIST, Jabalpur
( RGPV University, Bhopal) 2005
(Masters in Public Administration) in distance learning mode from IGNOU
|Home Town||Satna (M.P.)|
|Hobbies & Extracurricular||Playing Table Tennis, Cricket , Badminton, Writing, Introspection, Public Speaking|
Strategy for Written Test of APFC
- I was a civil service aspirant at that time and didn’t strategise exclusively for this exam. The syllabus of APFC exam was also similar to Civils Prelims. But I did cover some specific areas mentioned in the syllabus.
- You can see the previous question papers at Mrunal.org/APFC
- As per the new notification, the MCQ test will have 2 hours, 100 marks, 33% negative marking.
|General English component||No special preparation but I used to practice from Barrons GRE and Harimohan Prasad, which I think helped always.|
|Vocabulary part||I had made habit of learning 5 new words daily during my TCS days which I think helped a lot in long run. Further, regular editorial readings of The Hindu (those old days Hindu, nowadays it has lost some sheen) helped a lot in building vocabulary, comprehension apart from GS.|
|General Studies component||conventional areas required conventional approach and I relied upon|
|Polity / Constitution||Indian Polity by M.Laxmikant|
|Geography||NCERT books 9th to 12th & Atlas|
|History||I have prepared a one time concise notes from NCERT books for Ancient, Medieval, Modern which I kept referring apart from Spectrum , Bipin Chandra|
|Economy–||NCERT, Mrunal’s lecture series on Economy
|Indian culture||tried but could never cover. Also the cost benefit analysis, always pulled me away from culture|
|Computer applications||were quite easy|
|General Science||Basic awareness.|
|Accountancy & Auditing||
|Mental Ability, Maths, Stats||Practice of questions from R S Aggarwal and mock tests|
Industrial relation and labour laws
- Something I would say very important to cover.
- I downloaded a gist of all the labour laws and went through the salient points. I am not suggesting going through all the sections of the labour laws but knowing the basic salient points and preparing a comparative chart with the understanding of intent of each law would do .
- In the last exam, according to my analysis, this portion was the key element in selection and non-selection in written exam as many questions were asked from this area. Also going through some basic data about the industries would be good. The only new thing added in syllabus this time is social security in India.
- This is a very broad topic. I would suggest to go through various Central State schemes on social security along with comparative analysis. Also an overview of social security laws e.g. EPF & MP Act, ESI Act etc. would be good. Provisions relating to social security in Indian Constitution Directive Principles State Policy may be asked.
- To conclude, question paper would be one notch below civils prelims but since only 3 to 4 times of total vacancy posts would be called for interview, it makes selection in written a cut throat competition and even tougher than Civils Prelims
- Personality Test (PT) is similar to civils as the same board conducts the interview. The weightage of PT is 25 % this time.
- Though it is less when compared to 50 % last time but it would still be quite critical in final selection.
- My interview was in the Alka Sirohi Board. The questions asked ranged from electronics engineering (my grad subject), supercomputers, search engine techniques, ongoing current affairs issues like FIFA football tournament protests in Brazil, about places in Bhopal, Bhopal Gas Tragedy (very detailed questions and my views on ethical moral and legal issues involved in it esp. about quantum of compensation by Supreme Court), few basics of EPF Act & some other labour laws.
- It lasted for around 20-25 mins. Overall it was satisfactory, I tried to remain positive and I think that helped me despite not being able to answer some technical and current affairs questions.
- Further, this post being for providing social security to the workers, interview board does tests aspirants approach / attitude towards the downtrodden and low income groups of society.
Changes for Avg. Student?
- I have always been an average student which is also obvious from my profile above. But it has hardly mattered during my preparations.
- UPSC Civils and even the APFC exam is very democratic by that definition and every aspirant has to sweat his calories to achieve success.
- Though, I agree that persons having good academics generally have good habit of consistent approach over long gestation periods.
Journey of Civils / APFC alongside Job
- I always had in my mind about going for Civil Services during my engineering but was also conscious of the fact that being an average student, it wouldn’t be easy. Also the gestation period of civil services being long, initially I wanted to grab some job.
- I was selected in TCS in 2005 and job location was Hyderabad. Initial few years went in training, adapting to first job.
- Coaching was also not available in Hyderabad during week ends as my office timings did not permit me joining daily coaching. Somehow I started preparation on my own but that didn’t help much either. I failed in pre itself in my first attempt in 2008.
- Now at this juncture, on one side I had onsite opportunity to go to US and on another side to continue my journey of civils which was in miserable shape. After lot of brainstorming, I took the inner calI and rejected the onsite offer. Everybody was surprised as in IT people were dying to go to onsite and I rejected this hot cake.
- Fortunately, week end coaching was started in Brain Tree and I joined it. The journey had begun, shuttling between office and coaching classes. I prepared well, qualified Pre comfortably in 2009.
- But again Mains, no leaves, no planning, no prep, a disaster. The fight continued, again qualified Pre and also meanwhile got though in written and interview of Section Officer in CSIR, Min. of S&T.
- To get some relief from work, joined CSIR. Prepared well but not good enough in Mains and could not get interview call by few marks. In CSIR, got posted to Chennai, again training etc. and CSAT…last attempt…skipped in 2011. Prep continued but momentum was lost. The mastery of Pub Ad was of no use due to CSAT. Succumb to my own expectations and pressure and failed in Pre itself in 2012. The UPSC game was over. Life shattered.
- It was like I have lost everything. Then came this APFC exam, had no confidence, no prep, just gave the exam in September 2012. Did well but had very little hope. Time passed, got married, transferred to Bhopal, my home state. Routine life went on in CSIR as SO. Then in March while I was in Delhi, APFC written results were declared and my Roll No DID APPEAR in SUCCESSFUL candidates list.
- I was energized, happy. Gave interview in June-2013 in Alka Sirohi Board. It was good, not the best. Then on 16th Aug, final results were declared and my Roll No with name DID APPEAR in SUCCESSFUL candidates list. Finally, recognition by UPSC, a stamp of success. The journey was over or may be it has begun.
Service Profile of PF commissioner in EPFO
Many aspirants are not aware about the job profile of APFC as the recruitment is not done by UPSC on a regular basis. The last two recruitment were done in the year 2006, 2012. The brief about this service is as below :
What is EPFO?
- EPFO is a statutory body under Central Board of Trustees (Central Board), Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India. Parliament of India enacted Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act (EPF & MP Act) in 1952 for fulfilling the constitutional commitments envisaged under the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of Independent India.
- Social Security and Provident Funds are the subject under concurrent list but since states do not have their own enforcement agency, it is the EPFO which enforces the EPF & MP Act, 1952 and three schemes dealing with PF, insurance & Pension therein in the country (except J & K) in central as well as state sphere in respect of all the establishments / companies / firms etc. where 20 or more persons are employed.
- It is the regulatory body for ensuring proper compliance of the exempted PF trusts maintained by private establishments.
- It is also the Nodal agency for implementing Social Security Agreements with foreign countries.
Overview of Service:
- Provident Fund Commissioners (PF Commissioners) is a Group A service in Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
- Provident Fund Commissioners are the statutory authorities created by the statute itself. Till 1988, PF Commissioners upto Central PF Commissioner (CPFC) were appointed by Central Government (Mostly IAS, IRS on deputation).
- In the year 1988, EPF & MP Act was amended and except for the post of CPFC & Financial Adviser, Central Board was delegated the power to appoint PF Commissioners through UPSC.
- This opened the gate for direct recruitment of PF Commissioners in EPFO. Initially, owing to the specialized nature of service, work experience was mandatory and mostly employees from Banks, Chartered Accountants, Lawyers were appointed as PF Commissioners.
- In the later years especially from 1994, graduation degree was made the educational qualification criteria.
- This marked the beginning of DR recruitment in real sense. As on 1.8.2015, sanctioned strength of Group A Officers in the cadre of PF Commissioners is 852.
There are two modes of recruitment to the cadre of Provident Fund Commissioners in EPFO
- Direct Recruitment of Assistant PF Commissioners through UPSC by All India Level open competitive written exam followed by interview by the UPSC Interview Board (50%).
- Through promotions of Group B Enforcement Officers / Account Officers from within the department.
- Directly recruited Assistant PF Commissioners (Probationers) initially undergo 45 days on the job training (OJT) programme in the field offices. During OJT, the Direct Recruits (DR) have to complete the training module provided by Head Office under the guidance of concerned Regional Commissioner. The OJT broadly includes orientation of all functional areas, preparation of concept paper on Social Security (India & World), field visit to establishments, preparation of Inspection Reports, Quasi Judicial functions, Preparation of Draft Speaking Orders, Preparation of Draft Replies in CDRF / Tribunal/ High Court / Supreme Court cases, Recovery Machinery, visit to Courts, attending Bhavishya Nidhi Adalat, Liaisoning with Banks, Meetings with Employees Association, Labour Unions, Employers Association.
- After completion of OJT, APFC (Probationers) have to undergo 3 to 6 months Foundation Course Induction Training at National Academy for Training & Research in Social Security (NATRSS), New Delhi, National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT), Nagpur. The Induction Training broadly includes class room sessions on many functional areas viz. EPF & MP Act, Civil Procedure Code & Criminal Procedure Code, Labour laws, Central Labour Machinery, Provident Fund investment & management, Officer like Qualities (OLQs) sessions, Dining etiquettes, Behavioural Management sessions, Yoga classes, Outbound Training Programme, Field visit to exempted establishments.
- There are in-service, mid career, general management training programmes in the National Academy as well as in other national training institutes like IIMs, ASCI etc.
Role & Function of PF Commissioners
The PF Commissioners are the spine of the organization around which involves the overall functioning of the department. The commissioners are responsible for the enforcement and administration of the Act and scheme provisions. The work area is very broad and inter-alia includes :
Enforcement, Exemption & Recovery:
- Enforcement of the Act to all establishments under the Act.
- PF Commissioners along with Enforcement Officers in EPFO have been notified by the Central Government as Inspectors for the purpose of EPF Act implementation and are vested with powers of search, seizure of the establishments.
- Ensuring Compliance of exempted PF trusts and in case of any non-compliance, recommending for cancellation of exemption to appropriate government.
- Forwarding requests of establishments for granting exemption from any one or all the schemes under the Act to appropriate government.
- Compliance Audit of Exempted trusts.
- PF Commissioners have been notified as Recovery Officers by the Central Government for recovering the PF dues from employers by using the powers akin to that of a civil court which include arrest and detention of defaulter employers in civil prison, bank account attachment, attachment and sale of property through auctions, appointment of receiver for running the establishment.
Quasi Judicial Authority
- Conducting inquiry which shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding for deciding the dispute about applicability of the Act to establishments and determination of amount due from employers.
- Power to recover damages from the employers by way of penalty.
- Powers akin to a civil court for enforcing attendance and production of records of any person for the purpose of inquiry and powers to issue warrant of arrest, impose fine, attachment of property.
Finance & Accounts, Banking, Pension, Legal
- Settlement of Claims, Preparation of Accounts of members and establishments
- Monitoring the work of subordinate staff and resolving any issues arising in the course of work.
- Ensuring preparation of Pension Payment Orders to all the pensioners and beneficiaries.
- Liaisoning with banks for smooth pension disbursement.
- Monitoring the debit and credit in all the accounts of EPFO
- Liaisoning with Banks for proper maintenance of EPFO Accounts
- Ensuring timely transfer of money by the Banks to the Investment Accounts
- Preparation of Balance Sheet
- Preparing replies on behalf of EPFO in legal cases relating to Act & schemes in Tribunal / High Court / Supreme Court
- Ensuring filing and follow up of criminal cases filed against the employers in the Courts of Magistrates.
- PF Commissioners by virtue of being notified as Inspectors have also been appointed by the Central Government as Assistant Public Prosecutors (Section 25 of Code of Criminal Procedure) for the purpose of conducting cases within their jurisdiction arising out of EPF Act in the Courts of Magistrates.
Human Resource Management (HRM), Coordination, Conference, Publicity, Physical Facility Division, Official Language, Parliament:
- Recruitment, Promotion and all administrative matters
- Looking after administrative Vigilance
- Legal matters related to service
- Staff Associations
- CBT, EC, other high level Meetings
- Up keep of EPFO Physical Infrastructure
Customer Service Division (CSD), Information Services Division & Management Information System (MIS), NATRSS & Zonal Training Institutes :
- Ensuring timely resolution of grievances of members, Pensioners, employers.
- Ensuring timely resolution of grievances / references received from PMO, Ministry, Head Office, CMO etc. relating to PF and allied areas.
- Organizing Bhavishya Nidhi Adalat every month.
- Ensuring timely sending of all MIS Reports
- Ensuring technological upgradation and computerization in EPFO
- Up keep and upgradation of EPFO IT infrastructure
- Carrying out training & research in the field of social security in the national academy and zonal training institutes.
Central Analysis & Intelligence Unit (CAIU), Investment Monitoring cell, International Workers & Social Security Agreements with other Countries, Acturial & Policy (Head Office):
- Monitoring and providing permission to inspections through Shram Suvidha Portal of the Ministry.
- Coordinating with Fund managers & CRISIL
- Monitoring investment in equities through ETFs.
- Keeping watch on timely investment and returns
- Looking after the work related to International Workers
- Work related to Social Security Agreements with other countries
- Actuarial analysis of Pension Scheme
Vigilance & Audit
- The officers are appointed in these divisions on deputation. PF Commissioners out of their willingness and eligibility are also appointed as Deputy Directors & Directors in Vigilance & Audit Divisions.
The PF Commissioners are also deputed to foreign countries for short duration for carrying out social security agreements related work with other countries. Some of the former PF Commissioners are also serving in UNDP, World Bank, Social Security Division in the corporate world.
|S.No.||Designation||Scale / Rank / Pay band||Remarks|
|1.||Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner (APFC)||Junior Time Scale PB-3 (15600-39100 + 5400 GP)||Grant of STS 6600 GP on completion of 4 years of service.|
|2.||Regional Provident Fund Commissioner – II (RPFC-II)||Senior Time Scale (15600-39100 + 6600 )||On completion of 5 years as APFC.|
|3.||Regional Provident Fund Commissioner – I (RPFC-I)||Junior Administrative Grade (15600-39100 + 7600).
Selection Grade PB-4 (37400-67000 + 8700)
|On completion of 5 years as RPFC-II. Granted NFSG in PB-4 with GP 8700 on completion of 13 years of Group A service.|
|4.||Addl. Central PF Commissioner –II (ACC-II)||Selection Grade (37400-67000 + 8700)||On completion of 5 years as RPFC-I.|
|5.||Addl. Central PF Commissioner –I (ACC-I)||(37400-67000 + 8900)||On completion of 5 years as ACC-II.|
|6.||Addl. Central PF Commissioner -HQ (ACC-HQ)||Super Time Scale (37400-67000 + 10000). Joint Secretary Rank||On completion of 4 years as ACC-I.|
|7.||Central PF Commissioner||Apex Scale (80000 fixed).
|Eligible for consideration on completion of 5 years service in the grade of ACC.|
EPFO: Concluding Remarks
- EPFO is a very unique organization performing multifaceted role – Enforcement of Act to companies for PF Compliance, Collection of PF dues from companies, Conducting Quasi Judicial Inquiry in case of disputes, Recovery of dues from companies, Finance Accounting & disbursal of the PF, Pension, Insurance to members , public service delivery, Regulatory function in case of exempted private PF trusts, Investment management of Fund.
- Thus EPFO has in it combined functions of – Enforcement Agency, Tax Department (Collection), Quasi Judicial Civil Court, Debt Recovery Tribunal, Regulatory Body, Bank (Finance Accounting & Service Provider), Social Security provider, Insurance Agency & Fund Manager. Further, the expenditure of EPFO is met from the administrative & inspection charges collected from companies
- It does not get any budgetary support from government for its expenses. In fact, the whole corpus of the fund (more than 8 lac crore) is mostly invested in central Govt / State Govt / PSUs Bonds in the infra and other sectors contributing hugely in the development of the country. PF Commissioners perform these array of tasks with the help of subordinate staff in ever changing dynamic environment.
Guru Gyaan : Wisdom
- Its difficult to understand and make everybody understand but that’s the way it is. The one thing which we long for we may or may not get.
- The dream of becoming an IAS officer may not get fulfilled for all. It is said, Aim for the moon, you may hit a star. That’s the way it is.
- Hardwork pays, when, how – No clear answers. Though we all appreciate Einstein’s Theory of Relativity but fail to understand.
- TIME component is something which we ignore very badly. Everything has a time. It is contextual. After some time, it really doesn’t matter much, even if it matters, nothing happens.
- We have to make peace with our past to have peace in our present as well as future. Our efforts sometimes may not yield us expected results. But nothing goes in vain, its all adding up there. Just keep doing your bit. Never, Never, Never Give Up !
Visit Mrunal.org/APFC for more related to this exam!