Impact of Covid 19

Impact of Covid 19- for Industrial Relations in Sri Lanka

Are contracts between employers and employees suspended or not?
One instance is the possibility of a contract between the two parties being temporarily suspended. It would however depend on the nature of the Industry. The reasons relating to the COVID-19 situation are beyond both parties’ control, but employees cannot be expected to come to work and employers cannot be expected to pay them without having performed any work . Both sides have to share responsibility in such situations. It should rather be considered an inability to perform which would bring in an entirely new arrangement. We will thus require a case by case analysis.
Another strong argument presented regarding this is that as a contract of employment is governed by Roman Dutch Law in Sri Lanka, the concept of frustration is not recognized in RDL. It instead recognizes supervening Impossibility which requires one party giving notice to the other party. It does not however happen automatically. This is the difference between supervening impossibility and the concept of frustration. Hence, the contract of employment is not temporarily suspended, it will subsist. Employees will have all their rights statutorily given. One might say that this is not equitable on the part of the employer but this is where some kind of a state intervention is required.
This is still in question as no such regulations are stipulated in Sri Lanka for such unforeseen, unpredictable situations such as remote location, working from home, part time jobs, Job sharing, how to clock in the hours etc. As such the current Labor law should be reformed accordingly. Until then employers and employees should consider genuine corporation & Bona Fides and come to a fair and amicable settlement for both parties.
As of today the labour regulation have brought in a new rule regarding employee termination based on the current covid 19 crisis.
This will be discussed at another session.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *