Sri Lanka
3.3 Sri Lanka Manual Labour

Currently in Sri Lanka the unemployment rate is noted at 4.7%.  There are 5 types of workers in Sri Lanka: permanent workers, probationers, apprentices, temporary workers, and contract workers. The working hours and holidays are set according to 3 laws namely; Wages Board Ordinance of 1941, Shop and Office Employees Act of 1954, and Factories Ordinance of 1950. Female participation in the labour force is increasing year by year, but majority of the female work force engage in garment factories or handicraft fields. According to the Factories Ordinance, women should not be forced to work at night against their will. If a woman works at night she shall be paid not less than 1 and ½ times her normal salary. The minimum age of recruitment in Sri Lanka is 18 years and the usual retirement age is 55 years. In Sri Lanka, forced labour and child labour is prohibited.

In private sector companies the contracts are time bound. The probation period of them are usually 6 months but can extend up to 9 if necessary. All contract workers work according to a specified job description for a fixed pay that does not involve overtime payments or additional ad hoc allowances. Temporary workers are hired on the basis of a particular task required to be done. On the contrary, in public sector employees get a permanent job till the retirement age of 55 years. However both private sector and public sector use cost incentives for more efficiency in work. Incentives are like salary increments, insurance and job security.

Employees have the right to form and engage in any union activity. Trade unions representing a category of employees can bargain against their needs from the employer. The unions stand their ground with the rights of the employees they are representing. 

Labour Rates Overview


Cost as of July 2019

Daily General Worker (Unskilled casual labour)

LKR 18094 -  LKR 24402

USD 103 – USD139

Daily General Worker (Semi-skilled labour)

LKR 26653 – LKR 36934

USD 152 – USD 210

Skilled Worker

LKR 40679 – LKR 60983

USD 232 – USD 347

(, 2019)

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