1.7 mn workers face uncertainty in SL amid Covid-19

More than 1.7 million temporary workers in Sri Lanka face uncertainty due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, new research showed.

In a blog post published by Sri Lanka’s Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on Wednesday, economist Priyanka Jayawardena wrote: “More than 1.7 million temporary employees in the private sector are at the risk of facing drastic wage cuts and layoffs,” Xinhua news agency reported.

Jayawardena said that significant dips in economic activities and demand for goods and services amid the pandemic will lead to redundancies, especially for temporary workers who lack legal protections.

Citing data from the Department of Census and Statistics, Jayawardena said that more than 100,000 people were unemployed in the first quarter of 2020, with more job losses likely due to pandemic induced uncertainties.

According to Jayawardena, around 90 per cent of temporary and casual workers do not have a written contract, while 88 per cent are not covered by the country’s Employee’s Provident Fund.

Sri Lanka has 2.8 million private-sector employees, out of whom 60 per cent are temporary workers lacking formal job and social security benefits.

The research called for greater labour market security, an unemployment insurance scheme, and policies to re-skill unemployed workers in order to transition them to new sectors.

IPS is an economic think-tank established by an act of Parliament in 1990 and functions under ministries involved in economic policymaking.

As of Thursday, Sri Lanka has reported a total of 3,140 coronavirus cases, with 12 deaths.