Holiday Entitlements Under the Sri Lankan Labour Law

Employment in Sri Lanka is governed by several Acts and Statutes. The Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act No 19 of 1954, covers the employees in all shops and offices in Sri Lanka, except for any bazar or sale of work for charitable or other purposes carried on for a period of one month or less, or for a greater period with the approval of the Minister of Labour, any business undertaken in connection with funerals, members of tutorial staff of schools, or watchers and caretakers.

Under the Act, an employee is eligible to several types of holidays. They are:

  • Weekly holiday

  • Annual leave

  • Casual leave (sick leave)

  • Public holiday

  • Full moon Poya holiday

  • Maternity leave

Weekly holiday

An employee who works for 28 hours or more in a given week is eligible for one and half days as a weekly holiday with full remuneration, which should be granted on such week or the week immediately succeeding. Generally, such leave is granted as half day on Saturday and a full day on Sunday. In practice, many organizations provide the complete day as a holiday on Saturday.

Annual leave

The employee is permitted to 14 days of annual leave complete with the full salary for each concluded year of service. Hence, employees are not entitled to annual leave on the first year of employment. Annual leave for the second year of employment is accrued based on the date the employee joined service. The annual leave accrual is set out below.

  • Between January 1 and March 31 of the previous year – 14 days

  • Between April 1 and June 30 of the previous year – 10 days

  • Between July 1 and September 30 of the previous year – 7 days

  • Between October 1 and December 31 of the previous year – 4 days

Casual leave/ sick leave

The second year onwards the employee will be eligible for 7 days of casual leave. On the first year of employment, the employee is entitled to one casual leave for every two complete months of service.

Statutory holiday

In terms of the Act, the following days have been declared as public holidays with pay for the shop and office employees. These are also commonly referred to as “Mercantile Holidays”

  • Thai Pongal day

  • Independence day

  • Sinhala & Tamil New Year

  • Day preceding Sinhala & Tamil New Year

  • May Day

  • Day after Vesak full moon Poya

  • Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday

  • Christmas

An employee who is required to engage in work on a public holiday is paid no less than twice the daily salary, or a substitute holiday on any day prior to 31st December of the given year.

Full Moon Poya holiday

Employees are granted a holiday on full moon poya days. The days on which poya holidays are granted are published in the Gazette every year. An employee who is required to engage in work on a poya day is paid no less than one and a half times the daily salary.

Maternity leave

For the birth of the first and second child, a female employee is entitled to 84 days of paid leave, which includes 14 days of pre-confinement leave and 70 days after confinement. For the birth of the third child and any subsequent child, the leave entitlement is 42 days (including 14 days of pre-confinement leave and 28 days after confinement). Maternity leave is considered without taking into account the weekly holidays, public holidays and full moon poya holidays.

Read More about Labour Law in Sri Lanka

This is only an overview of the applicable law, and should not be relied upon as legal advice or recommendation by D. L. & F. De Saram, a leading law firm in Sri Lanka. If you require our advice, please be good enough to contact us on [email protected]