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Labor Reforms in Sri Lanka

The government in Sri Lanka realized the need to carry out labor reforms. As a first step, a joint public and private sector committee has prepared a draft national employment policy. The policy contains seven initiatives to facilitate employment creation through economic growth and to improve employability of the current work force. Among other measures, it recommends labor law reforms to facilitate private investment as well as improvements to tripartite dialog among the state, private sector and employees to deal with industrial relations issues.
The Government respects the constitutional right of workers to establish unions, and Sri Lanka has a strong trade union tradition. Any seven workers may form a union, adopt a charter, elect leaders, and publicize their views. In practice, however, such rights can be subject to administrative delays, and at times are unofficially discouraged.
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by provisions of the 1844 Abolition of Slavery Act. The minimum age for employment is 14.Some violence and discrimination against women, in the informal sector, and discrimination against the disabled continue to be problems. There is some discrimination and occasional violence against religious minorities. 

The Constitution provides for equal employment opportunities in the public sector. There is no universal national minimum wage. Most permanent full-time workers are covered by laws that prohibit them from regularly working more than 45 hours per week (a 5½ day workweek). This does not apply to workers in factories. Women workers covered under the Factories Ordinance can work up to 60 hours per week. Such workers also receive 14 days of annual leave, 14 to 21 days of medical leave, and approximately 20 local holidays each year. Maternity leave is available for permanent and casual female workers.
Several laws protect the safety and health of industrial workers. Workers have the statutory right to remove themselves from situations that endanger their health.

Last Updated on: 19-05-2010

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