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Sri Lanka Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off, Vacation Days, Sick Leave, Casual Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, and Voting Leave

Table Of Contents

Last updated on January 22, 2024.

Paid Time Off (PTO) in Sri Lanka

Vacation (Annual Leave) Quota

14 days

After one full year of service at the company, employees are entitled to 14 days of fully paid vacation per year.

During their first year of service, employees are not entitled to vacation. Therefore, in the first year, they are only earning vacation days that they could take in their second year of service. The number of vacation days depends on the date that the employee has joined the company:

  • 14 days (full entitlement): if an employee started working between January 1 and April 1,
  • 10 days: if an employee started working between April 1 and July 1,
  • 7 days: if an employee started working between July 1 and October 1,
  • 4 days: if an employee started working after October 1 but before December 31.

These are vacation days that they are entitled to in their second year. As shown, even employees serving less than a full year are entitled to proportionate annual leave. Certain professions set by Sri Lanka leave laws are entitled to up to 21 days of leave.

Days off for public holidays are given in addition to this annual leave.

Taking a Vacation

The exact dates for taking leave are determined through mutual agreement with the employee on one side and the employer on the other side. Sri Lanka leave laws allow vacation days to be split but require that an employee must take at least 7 days of vacation per year without interruption (consecutively).

Carry Over

Carryover of unused vacation days is not specified by Sri Lanka leave laws and is thus left up to each employer to define it in company policy.

PTO Payout at the Termination

At the end of employment, an employee is entitled to:

  • Any earned vacation days from the previous year with full pay;
  • Their earned vacation days for the year when they are terminated:

-if they worked less than 10 months, they get one paid day off for each full month they worked.

-if they work for more than 10 months, they get a full 14-day vacation.

The employer must allow these paid vacation days. However, if the employee cannot take these days off due to short notice of termination or being fired without notice, the employer must pay the employee for these days as if they had taken annual leave.

Sick Leave in Sri Lanka

Up to 7 days of paid sick leave.

In leave laws of Sri Lanka, there is no specific category labeled as ‘sick leave’. Instead, employees are allowed to use casual leave for such purposes.

Casual leave may be used for:

  • Personal matters,

  • Health issues or illness,

  • Other justified causes.

This approach provides employees with the flexibility to use their casual leave for sickness, among other reasons. Employees in Sri Lanka are entitled to up to 7 days of fully paid casual leave after a full year of continuous work. This applies both to employees in the private and public sectors.

The same as vacation, casual leave is given in the second year of employment. These casual days given in the second year of work are earned during the 1st year of service. Employees begin to accumulate casual leave from the first day of work, based on their service: at the rate of 1 day of sick leave for every 2 months worked. These accumulated days employees may take during that first year itself. From the second year of employment onwards, employees are entitled to a full 7 years of leave.

A request for sick leave must be accompanied by an official medical certificate from a licensed doctor. The employee may use casual leave only for personal matters or due to their own sickness (and not for other family members, as it’s set in other countries’ leave laws).

Payout

The employer pays the full rate for sick or casual leave.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Maternity Leave in Sri Lanka

84 days

All pregnant employees are entitled to paid maternity leave. The duration of this leave depends on whether an employee already had children before this pregnancy, as well as the outcome of the birth. Maternity leave does not include Sundays, statutory holidays, or Poya days.

Regular Maternity Leave

Pregnant female employees in Sri Lanka are entitled to a total of 84 calendar days (12 weeks) of paid maternity leave if childbirth results in a live child.

These 12 weeks are broken down to:

  • Prenatal maternity leave, which is the period before childbirth, lasts for 14 days (2 weeks);
  • Postnatal maternity leave after childbirth is 70 days (10 weeks).

If a pregnant woman does not take her maternity leave before giving birth, she can add those days to her post-birth maternity leave.

Leave in Case of the Birth of a Dead Child

In the unfortunate case that the pregnancy shall result in stillbirth (the birth of a dead infant), an employee has a right to a leave of 42 days (6 weeks), divided as 14 days (two weeks) before the anticipated delivery date and 28 days (four weeks) following it.

Third, forth, and any subsequent child

Maternity leave is only 42 days (6 weeks) if a mother is having a third or any following child (if she already has two or more children). This maternal leave is split into 14 days before and 28 days after childbirth.

Job Protection During Maternity Leave

In addition to pregnant employees entitlement to paid maternity leave, job protection also applies. An employer may not fire a woman just because she is pregnant, has given birth, or is sick due to pregnancy or childbirth. If an employer fires a woman for these reasons, they must prove the firing was for a different reason. Also, an employer may not give a dismissal notice to a woman on maternity leave in such a way that it ends during her leave.

Payout of Maternity Leave

An employer is required to pay maternity benefits for the time before and up to the day of childbirth within 48 hours after an employee presents proof that she is pregnant. The pay for the time period following the birth should be divided into two parts: the first installment in the second week and the second installment in the fourth week of maternity leave.

Paternity Leave in Sri Lanka

In the private sector, there are no statutory provisions in Sri Lankan leave laws regarding paternity leave. In the public sector, fathers are entitled to mandatory 3 days of paid maternity leave, which are allowed in the first 3 months after childbirth.

Parental Leave in Sri Lanka

As with paternity leave, no provisions in Sri Lanka leave laws address parental leave.

Adoption Leave in Sri Lanka

Adoption leave is also not specified by law.

Bereavement Leave in Sri Lanka

Berevement leave is not labeled as such in any act concerning leave laws, but employees are allowed to use days of paid casual leave in case of the death of an immediate family member.

Jury Duty Leave in Sri Lanka

There is no legal definition of jury duty leave.

Military Leave in Sri Lanka

An employer in Sri Lanka is required to provide leave for an employee who needs to participate in the reserve list of a volunteer unit within the armed forces.

Voting Leave in Sri Lanka

Employees are entitled to regular voting leave to fulfill their civic duty of voting for elections or referendums.

Marriage Leave in Sri Lanka

Marriage leave is also not explicitly provided for in the leave laws; instead, it is left to the employer’s discretion.

Public Holidays in Sri Lanka for 2024

16 public holidays

At the beginning of each year, the Sri Lankan government declares 16 festival holidays. Each employee is entitled to a fully paid day off on these holidays. An employee who is obligated to work on public holidays is entitled to double wages, or a day off in lieu (replacement day), before December 31 of that year. When a public holiday occurs on a regular unworking day, it is usually lost, and no extra day off is provided.

Every Poya Day on a full moon is considered a public holiday. Employees required to work on this day are paid one and a half wages. Because the exact dates for this holiday vary each year, they are published each year in the official Gazette. When a full moon occurs during a weekend, it is not moved to a working day.

A complete list of public holidays celebrated by Sri Lanka in 2024:
Date Holiday
January 15 Tamil Thai Pongal Day
January 25 Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
February 4 National Day
February 24 Navam Full Moon Poya Day
March 8 Mahasivarathri Day
March 24 Madin Full Moon Poya Day
March 29 Good Friday
April 10 Id Ul-Fitr
April 12 & 13 Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
April 23 Bak Full Moon Poya Day
May 1 Spring Day
May 23 & 24 Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
June 17 Id Ul-Alha
June 21 Poson Full Moon Poya Day
July 20 Esala Full Moon Poya Day
August 19 Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
September 16 Milad un-Nabi
September 17 Binara Full Moon Poya Day
October 17 Vap Full Moon Poya Day
October 31 Deepavali
November 15 Ill Full Moon Poya Day
December 14 Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
December 25 Christmas
Weekends

Most employees are entitled to at least one full day off, usually on Sunday, and a half-day off on Saturday. However, most companies provide the whole weekend off, making it two days of paid leave. An employee who is required to work on these days is entitled to overtime pay.

Bank holidays are considered all Saturdays, Sundays, and national public holidays.

Employees usually get about 125 days off per year, including Saturdays and Sundays along with national public holidays.

Sources

Sri Lanka’s leave laws are regulated by two key legislations: the Shop and Office Employees Act of 1956 and the Maternity Benefits Ordinance.

  1. Local Laws and Regulations, https://www.atlashxm.com/en/countries/sri-lanka

  2. Payroll and Benefits Guide Sri Lanka, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/sri-lanka/

  3. Definitive Guide to Hiring in Sri Lanka, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/sri-lanka/

  4. Sri Lanka, Employment Country Guide, https://workmotion.com/countries/sri-lanka/

  5. Maternity Benefits Ordinance: official translation of an act concerning maternity leave benefits, https://www.niosh.gov.lk/images/pdfs/downloads/acts_and_cerculars/maternity_benefits_ordinance_i_8.pdf

To learn more about laws in various countries, check out our Leave Laws page.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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