Project on “Promoting decent work through good governance, protection and empowerment of migrant workers: Ensuring the effective implementation of the Sri Lanka National Labour Migration Policy” Phase I

The Project supports the Government and stakeholders to jointly implement the commitments in the Sri Lanka National Labour Migration Policy of 2008 to enhance the governance of the labour migration process and to empower and protect migrant workers and their family members.


Sri Lanka’s focus on labour migration is determined by the demands of the international labour market that has shaped the profile of the country’s migrant labour force. It is estimated that more than 1.6 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, especially in oil rich countries in the Middle East, contributing more than 8 per cent to GDP through remittances. Roughly 2.8 per cent of Sri Lanka’s labour force migrates annually, a number which is increasing, with approximately 200,000 people annually departing the shores of the country in search of work in the last 5 years. The number of female migrants, which was 24% for the period of 1986-87, increased from 49% percent in 1988 to 75% in 1997, but decreased to 48% in 2011. During the past decade the total male departures increased steadily but reached 52% in 2011. It was 25% in 1997 and at present fluctuates around 50%. Despite diverse initiatives, both by the Government and the non-governmental sector, Sri Lankan migrant workers face a multitude of obstacles at all stages of the migration cycle.


In order to address the challenges in the migration process in a more comprehensive and holistic manner the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), in 2008, developed the National Labour Migration Policy for Sri Lanka with the full and active participation of key stakeholders. The ILO supported the policy development process.

The national policy aims to promote opportunities for all men and women to engage in migration for decent and productive employment in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

To Contribute to the sustainable economic and social development of Sri Lanka by promoting decent and productive employment opportunities for women and men while safeguarding the rights, freedoms, security and dignity of migrant workers and their families.

1. To strengthen policy, legal and institutional frameworks for improved governance of the migration process, and protection and empowerment of migrant workers and their families.

2. To review and enhance the processes for improved governance,protection and empowerment of migrant workers and their families.

3. To improve efficiency and effectiveness of protection and grievance mechanism and procedures through institutional strengthening