Sri Lanka

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The employment relationship in Sri Lanka is governed by multiple sources of law, including the Shop and Office Employees Act, the Factory Ordinance, the Minimum Wage Ordinance, and the Maternity Benefits Ordinance.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Normal working time hours for shop and office employees are 8 hours per day and 45 hours per week.


Normal working hours for employees who work in a factory should not exceed 9 hours per day, exclusive of meal and rest breaks.


Normal working hours limit do not apply to employees who hold an executive or managerial position in a public institution and who is in receipt of a salary which is not less than Rs. 6, 720 per year.


Shop and the Office Employees Act, 1956, Reg. 3, 6, and 7; Factories Ordinance, §67.


The period during which a person may be employed, overtime shall not exceed an aggregate of 12 hours in any one week, at a rate not less than 1.5 times the hourly rate of his ordinary remuneration. Shop and Office Employees Act, 1954, §6-9.


Workers employed in a business shop or office who work during the day are entitled to a one hour break. Office and business shop employees working between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. are entitled to take a 30-minute break for meal and rest. If the working time includes the period between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., then a 1-hour break for meal and rest should be given. Shop and the Office Employees Act, 1956, §9 & Schedule to Section 9.

Work On Rest Days

Every person employed in or about the business of any shop or office will be allowed one whole holiday and one half-day after for every week. Shop and the Office Employees Act, 1956, § 5-7.

Public Holidays

Public holidays for the 2019 calendar year:

    • January 1, 2019: Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
    • January 15, 2019: Tamil Thai Pongal Day
    • February 19, 2019: Navam Full Moon Poya Day
    • February 4, 2019: National Day
    • March 4, 2019: Mahashivarathri Day
    • March 20, 2019: Madin Full Moon Poya Day
    • April 19, 2019: Good Friday
    • April 19, 2019: Bak Full Moon Poya Day
    • April 13, 2019: Day prior to Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day
    • April 14, 2019: Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day
    • May 1, 2019: May Day
    • May 18, 2019: Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
    • May 19, 2019: Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
    • June 5, 2019: Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramazan)
    • June 15, 2019: Poson Full Moon Poya Day
    • July 16, 2019: Esala Full Moon Poya Day
    • August 12, 2019: Id-Ul-Alha (Hadji Festival)
    • August 14, 2019: Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
    • September 13, 2019: Binara Full Moon Poya Day
    • October 13, 2019: Vap Full Moon Poya Day
    • October 27, 2019: Deepavali Festival Day
    • November 10, 2019: Milad-Un-Nabi (Holy Prophet’s Birthday)
    • November 12, 2019: Ill Full Moon Poya Day
    • December 11, 2019: Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
    • December 25, 2019: Christmas Day

Any employee to whom the Holidays Order applies may, with the prior permission of the Commissioner, be employed on any day declared to be a holiday by such Order. Employees who work on a public holiday are entitled to receive double time for all worked.


 If Full Moon Poya Day falls on a holiday, a weekly holiday or on a weekly half-day holiday, no additional holiday is given to the employee. Shop and the Office Employees Act, 1956, §8.


Annual Leave

The employee is permitted to 14 days of annual leave complete with full salary for each concluded year of service. Annual leave for the first year is based on when the employee started working: 

      • Jan 1st – March 31st: 14 days with pay;
      • Apr 1st – June 30th: 10 days with pay;
      • Jul 1st – Sept 30th: 7 days with pay; or
      • Oct 1st – Dec 31st: 4 days with pay.

Annual leave for the second year of employment is accrued based on the date the employee joined service.


In case a person is terminated without notice the employer shall pay full remuneration. Shop and the Office Employees Act, 1956, §6.

Minimum Wage

The national minimum monthly wage for all workers in any industry or service shall be 10,000 rupees and the national minimum daily wage of a worker shall be 400 rupees. National Minimum Wage of Workers Act 2016.

Special Leave

Sick Leave

For each year of employment during which any person has been continuously in employment in or about the business of any shop or office, leave with full remuneration for a period or an aggregate period of 7 days. Shop and Office Employees Act, 1956, §6.

Paternity Leave

Public employees (permanent, temporary, casual, or trainee) are entitled to take 3 days paternity leave for the birth of a child. Leave must be used within three months of the child being born. Section 18 of the Chapter XII of the Establishments Code As amended by the Public Administration Circular 03/2006.

Maternity Benefit Leave

Female employees are entitled to take 84-days/12-weeks of leave for the birth of their first and second child. Employees with two or more children are only entitled to receive 42-days/6-weeks of leave for the birth of their child. Leave should commence 2 weeks before the expected delivery date. If a female employee passes away during her maternity leave, the leave in respect of which the payment is to be made by the employer is only up to and including the date of death. Shop and Office Employees Act, 1956, Sec 18; Maternity Benefits Ordinance 1939.

Last updated on: November 7th, 2018