- Says current situation has drained even most resourceful employers
- Stresses need for state intervention
- Says financial assistance and employment-related issues need out of box solutions
- Points out new work arrangements would add to start-up cost
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) has reached out to the government seeking short-term relief for the private sector as the stoppage of work for over six weeks has crippled businesses, making it difficult for many to pay even the basic salary component.
Since paying salaries and sustaining the workforce has become the biggest challenge faced by the employers at this time of crisis, the EFC said that state intervention is inevitable as the vibrant private sector makes a steady recovery while taking precaution against the pandemic.
According to the EFC, the expectation of payment of wages during the curfew period and in the immediate months to come, despite the employers not having sufficient income, will continue to have a severe drain on even the most resourceful employers in the country. Therefore, it highlighted the need for some form of assistance.
“Urgent financial assistance as well as employment-related issues will need to be addressed with out of the box solutions, if we are to expect stability in and speedy recovery of labour markets,” the EFC said in a letter to the Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations Ministry.
It added that it is a foregone conclusion that the ‘world of work’ is unlikely to emerge and function as it did previously, considering the strict adherence to new norms related to ‘social distancing’ as well as health and hygiene.
“All this is going to add to the sum total of start-up costs for all employers, who are struggling to cope with the pressures of employing thousands of employees, many of whom may never be deployed for work, given the limited capacities the employer will be allowed to work within the short to mid-term recovery period,” the EFC pointed out.
While acknowledging that social protection must be at the forefront of government policy, it warned that expecting employers to take over the entire burden of such responsibilities will be “too much” for them to tackle singlehandedly and would lead to disastrous consequences for the national economy.