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Sri Lanka - Substantive requirements for dismissals

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - Sri Lanka - 2013    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: No
  • The TEWA does not expressly require the employer to inform the employees of the reasons for dismissal except for disciplinary dismissal (art. 2(5) TEWA)
    However, any dismissal of a worker covered by the TEWA which is not a disciplinary dismissal cannot take place without
    * the prior consent in writing of the worker; or
    * the prior written approval of the Commissioner (art. 2(1) TEWA).
    It might be that the employer shall be requested to inform the Commissioner of the reasons for dismissal when requesting approval. Sec. 13 provides that the Commissioner might direct the employer to furnish any information or explanation.
    Note also that the employee shall also be afforded the opportunity to be heard during the approval process.

Valid grounds (justified dismissal): none
  • Except for the reference to "termination by reason of punishment imposed by way of disciplinary action" (sec. 2(4) TEWA), the TEWA does not specify any valid grounds for dismissal.
    The employer cannot dismiss an employee other than for disciplinary reasons without:
    * the prior consent in writing of the worker; or
    * the prior written approval of the Commissioner which exercises an absolute discretion in granting or refusing approval (art. 2(1) TEWA).

    The IDA defines retrenchment as termination by an employer of the services of a worker or workers on the ground that they are in excess of the number of workers required by such employer to carry on his/her industry (sec. 48 IDA)

Prohibited grounds: pregnancy; maternity leave; filing a complaint against the employer; race; sex; religion; social origin; trade union membership and activities; language; birth
  • * See sec. 32A IDA on unfair labour practices:
    - dismissal by reason of trade union membership and activities (sec. 32A b))
    - dismissal of any workman or office-bearer of a trade union -
    (i) for any statement made before a tribunal or person in authority; or
    (ii) for any statement regarding acts or omissions of the employer relating to the terms and conditions of employment, of the members of such trade union made by such workman or office-bearer, in pursuance of an industrial dispute for the purpose of securing redress or amelioration of working conditions of such members" (sec. 32A b))
    * Sec. 40 IDA makes it an offence to dismiss a worker because he/she has become entitled to the benefit of any collective agreement, award or order (sec. 40(1)(k), IDA), or because the worker takes part in any proceedings against the employer, either as a witness or party (secs. 40(1)(j) and (p), IDA).
    * In addition, under the Maternity Benefits Ordinance (MBO), the employer shall not dismiss a woment during maternity leave nor can he or she dismisses a women by reason only of
    her pregnancy or confinement or of any illness resulting from her pregnancy or confinement. (sec. 10 and 10A MBO)

    * There is no legislation governing non-discrimination in employment in Sri Lanka. However, art. 12(2) of the Constitution provides that "No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds"
    Note that Sri Lanka ratified ILO Convention No. 111 (1958) on discrimination in employment in 1998.

Workers enjoying special protection: pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave
  • Sec. 10 MBO: "When a woman worker absents herself from work in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance (= maternity leave), it shall not be lawful for her employer to give her notice of dismissal during such absence or on such a day that the notice will expire during such absence."
    No specific protection for pregnant women and trade union members other than the prohibition to dismiss them only for reasons of pregnancy or trade union membership or activities (see prohibited grounds).