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Sri Lanka Urgently Needs Labor Law Reforms for Global Relevance, Says Employers’ Federation

In a candid statement, Vajira Ellepola, the Director General of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), emphasized the critical need for labor law reforms in Sri Lanka to foster business growth, which, in turn, would pave the way for the development of resilient and sustainable organizations.

Ellepola pointed out that Sri Lanka’s current labor laws have remained largely unchanged for decades, despite significant socioeconomic transformations in an intensely competitive global landscape. This, he stated, highlights the urgency of enacting labor law reforms to facilitate investment promotion and ensure the country’s relevance in the international arena.

These remarks came as EFC was invited to participate in a series of meetings with political representatives from various opposition parties, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the Bar Association, representatives of state enterprises, trade unions, and the Executive Council. The discussions revolved around the proposed Employment Act and the necessity of labor law reforms.

The EFC, representing the private sector alongside several business chambers, reiterated its long-standing advocacy for labor law reforms. While previous governments have expressed intentions to reform existing laws, they have often lacked the necessary political determination to implement these changes for the benefit of all stakeholders, Ellepola asserted.

The overarching objectives of labor law reforms, as outlined during these discussions, encompassed the promotion of investment, the creation of enhanced employment opportunities, the fortification of social security measures, and the creation of a conducive environment for both employees and employers to harness the full potential of the modern, technology-driven world of work.

To realize these objectives, the EFC proposed several key changes. These changes include adapting labor laws to align with the evolving socio-economic landscape, acknowledging the transformative impact of digital technology on the world of work, and promoting dynamic private sector-driven economic growth to ensure the national economy remains competitive and sustainable.

Ellepola stressed the urgent need to prioritize labor law reforms, emphasizing that they are essential for granting enterprises greater flexibility to attract investments, ultimately leading to increased employment opportunities. He presented proposals organized under three main pillars: laws pertaining to the termination of employment, conditions of employment, and laws governing industrial and labor relations.

Moreover, Ellepola underscored that for economic reforms in Sri Lanka to yield optimal results, they should be complemented by administrative, legal, and educational reforms, thus highlighting the interconnected nature of these reforms in driving the country’s progress.

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