Flexitime Work in Sri Lanka

Is flexitime recognised by Labour Law?

There is no Labour Law in Sri Lanka that addresses the concept of flexitime.

Does the law recognise part-time or seasonal work?

There are no laws to regulate part-time work or seasonal work. Seasonal work is usually available in the informal economy which is not regulated by Labour Law. Part-time work on the other hand is sometimes allowed by the private sector on strict contract basis, mainly linked to deliverables.

Are there collective agreements in Sri Lanka which address flexitime, part-time or seasonal work?

Collective Agreements are signed off by a tripartite body comprising the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Trade Unions and the Labour Ministry. Collective Agreements apply only to workers in the formal economy and thereby do not cover flexitime, part-time or seasonal forms of work. Collective Agreements focus on wages, and holidays and other benefits for workers in the formal sector, who work the agreed number of hours. Additional work is remunerated according to the law covering overtime.

Does the public sector have provision for part-time workers?

The public sector does not have provision for part-time workers, except as contract workers.  

Does the private sector have provision for part-time workers?

Workers in the private sector are covered by the Shop and Office Employees Act, which recognizes the regular work week of a maximum of 45 hours while the Factories Ordinance allows a maximum of 48 hours. However, in some unregulated instances, the management of private companies is free to seek the services of employees to fulfill a particular task which results in certain deliverables, according to a pre-determined timeline and set of guidelines. This work can be performed by workers as external consultants, who are not protected by the Labour Law in Sri Lanka.

In some private sector companies, staff has the option of starting work at a later hour than the usual 8.30 a.m. and compensating for it at the end of the day. However, organizations insist that staff is present during the core hours of work which commence at around 9.30 a.m.

Is there part-time and seasonal work for men and women in Sri Lanka?

There is part-time and seasonal work for men and women in the informal economy. But since this form of work is not regulated by Labour Law, such workers can be exploited and their recourse to justice is not always available.

In the case of garment factories, due to the sudden delivery requirements, the factories sometimes seek the services of seasonal workers to meet the orders. However, in this instance also seasonal work is unregulated, and dependent of delivery.

Are women workers who are nursing mothers entitled to flexitime?

All women workers who are nursing their babies and are covered under the Maternity Benefits Ordinance are entitled to two nursing intervals of not less than an hour in a nine hour working day at a time of the mother’s preference. Women working in the private sector and covered under the Shop and Office Employees Act are also entitled to similar flexitime benefits.

Do organizations engage staff for shift work?

Yes, organizations such as call centers, and factories etc., do engage workers to work in shifts. However, there is a ceiling of 10 p.m. for women workers in any formal employment. In the case of women who are amenable to working beyond that time, the employer must inform the Commissioner General of Labour and seek his approval before proceeding.

Is there a flexitime and work/ life balance (work in the night, weekend)?

Since the concept of flexitime is more ad hoc and not a mainstreamed method of work, the issue of flexitime and work/ life balance is not a labour issue at the moment. As mentioned above, some institutions hire the services of technical professionals on contract basis, and since payment is based on deliverables, the achievement of work/ life balance is for the individual, rather than the institution.

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