Presently, Sri Lankan law does not provide for a minimum retirement age that is applicable to the private sector. The first of its kind, the ‘Minimum Retirement Age of Workers Bill 2021’ (“Bill”) has been presented to Parliament.
The said Bill has proposed that the minimum age of retirement for an employee in the private sector should be 60 years. Once passed it will negate and/or override any other written law, contract of service, collective agreement or any other form of contract that provides for the age of retirement of an employee.
However, for the provisions of this Bill to be applicable the employer should on average, 12 months prior to the retirement of a workman have employed more than 15 workers.
The minimum age of retirement of an employee who is 52 years or above on the date on which this Bill comes into operation, has been indicated under Schedule I in the following manner:
|Age on Date of Operation||Minimum Retirement Age|
|54 or above and below 55 years||57 years|
|53 or above and below 54 years||58 years|
|52 or above and below 53 years||59 years|
|Below 52 years||60 years|
The classes of employment that do not come within the purview of the said Bill are setout in Schedule II therein. These include inter alia any worker in the government sector, employed by a statutory body (established under any written law) and any foreign worker who is not a citizen of Sri Lanka. Further, any worker employed under a fixed term, temporary, casual or seasonal contract of employment will not be afforded protection under this law. This proposed law will also not be applicable to probationary workers.
Where the service of a workman have come to an end in contravention of the provisions of the said Bill, a complaint in this regard maybe preferred to the Commissioner General Labour. Any challenge against the determination of the Commissioner General of Labour maybe preferred to the Court of Appeal.
Apart from dealing with the aspect of retirement the following could be regarded as some of the distinct and hallmark features of the said Bill:
- As a pre requisite to challenge the determination of the Commissioner General by way of a Writ to the Court of Appeal, a cash security will have to be deposited.
- The Bill provides for express categorization of employment. Fixed term employees, casual employees, seasonal employees and probationers have been statutorily defined for the first time.
- The express definition of a ‘Probationary Worker’ appears to statutorily restrict the probationary period to 180 days which could be extended upto a maximum of 90 days