The Department of Labour plans to introduce a minimum retirement age for Sri Lanka’s private sector employees after the presidential elections.
“I have already prepared a Cabinet paper to submit to the Cabinet following the presidential elections to determine the minimum retirement age for private-sector employees. However, it has to be discussed at National Labour Advisory Council,” Labour Department Commissioner General R.P.A. Wimalaweera said.
He was speaking at a discussion forum themed ‘Defying Retirement at 55 Years’ organised by the National Human Resources Development Council of Sri Lanka (NHRDC) together with Mead Johnson Nutrition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) and the International Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ICCSL).
Although a minimum retirement age exists for state-sector employees, Wimalaweera pointed out that there is no such a minimum retirement age for private-sector employees. He also noted that most private firms, except for large companies, don’t include the age of retirement in employment contract agreements.
“However, most private-sector employees retire at age of 55 in order claim their retirement benefits (EPF) and then re-join as contract employees on a temporary basis,” he said. Wimalaweera stressed that low labour force participation should be a bigger concern as the country’s future labour force will have to support the rapidly ageing population.
“By 2045, the population above the age of 65 will surpass the population of the age of 15. It means the labour force would be shrinking,” he noted.
Hence, he pointed out that there’s a dire need for a structure or a policy to be prepared to overcome this challenge.
The Department of Labour has completed drafting a single employment law, which would address the wages and conditions of work while incorporating the new dynamics of employment such as part-time employment and flexible working hours.
Amidst opposition from several influential labour unions, the draft bill is yet to reach the Cabinet.
The department plans to create more public awareness of the draft bill in the coming weeks to gain public support for it. (Nishel Fernando)