The agreement allows for a distinction between “the payment of wages in respect of employees who performed work and those who had to be ‘benched’ (without any work). This arrangement aims at addressing situations where companies will not be able to bring in the entire compliment of the work force due to restrictions that have been imposed (on account of health concerns)”. It is applicable to monthly paid employees of all sectors, unless theemployer cannot afford to pay employees based on this scheme. Any employers who cannot afford to pay wages as per the minimum standard set out in this scheme could make representations to the Commissioner General of Labour (the head of the Department of Labour), to obtain specific relief based on matters such as the financial situation of the employer.
In monetary terms, employers will apportion and pay wages for days worked based on the basic salary (wage with no additional allowances or overtime payment, for instance), and for the days not worked (days on the bench without any work) wages will be apportioned and paid either at the rate of 50% of the basic wage or 14,500 Sri Lankan Rupee for 30 days, whichever is higher.
The duration of the agreement, initially foreseen for the period of May and June 2020, has now been extended for a further period of three months, until September 2020.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) positively reacted to the agreement as it is in line with the advice it provided to its members throughout the Covid-19 crisis, which was to make use of social dialogue tools at enterprise level and engage as much as possible with unions and with instituted workers’ councils.
Thus, companies in cooperation with trade unions, can better implement the scheme under the tripartite agreement whilst at the same time respecting the peculiarity of their social dialogue processes.
EFC Director General and CEO, Kanishka Weerasinghe, said that “though this scheme is an initial step, nonetheless it is a historic agreement since it is a rare occasion in our history where all stakeholders agreed – at national level – to ‘pro-rate’ wages”. He continued saying that “importantly, it also paves the way to further discuss and solidify schemes such as ‘job sharing’ which we envisage to be very much part of our work routine in the months/years to come. Similarly, it also creates an environment for employees to get accustomed to apportioning of wages, etc.”. By “Job sharing” it is meant a work arrangement, where two or more employees are required to carry out work that is usually performed by one.