Labour and employment in Sri Lanka

D. L. & F. De Saram

D. L. & F. De Saram advises domestic and international clients on the full spectrum of labour and employment matters. It is adept at handling all regulatory and compliance matters, as well as conducting employment due diligence on transactions as well as internal investigations. In addition the team is well-placed to advise on corporate restructurings and reorganisations as well as advising on complaints and inquiries at the Labour District Offices and the Employees’ Trust Fund Board. Contentious work and employee benefits issues are other areas of expertise. With Jivan Goonetileke and Manjula Sirimane at the helm, the group works closely with a number of international law firms.


The team is very professional. They are capable of handling all the relevant legal matters. They professionally deal with all our local and overseas managers. They use technology during this pandemic so are always approachable‘.

‘I highly recommend Jivan Goonetilleke. I really appreciate his professional advice for all our legal matters. He is always approachable, flexible also has a good relationship with all our overseas relevant people managers too. We trust and recommend his service 100%‘.

‘Quick response times offering practical solutions‘.

Key clients

Schneider Electric


Associated British Food Group (A B Mauri Lanka (Private) Limited)

Allianz Group


HCL Technologies Limited

Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited [ Sri Lankan entity of the Siam City / “Insee Group”] [formerly Holcim Lanka Limited part of the LafargHolcim Group]

Nestle Lanka PLC

ZTE Corporation


Tesco Sourcing


London Stock Exchange Group


Wiley Global Technology (Private) Limited

Fresenius Medical Care Asia-Pacific Limited

Virtusa (Private) Limited

Mines Advisory Group

International Research & Exchange Board (IREX)

Nokia Solutions & Networks Limited

Dewhirst Group

Dell NoCavinKare


Toll Global

Plan International

Pernod Ricard Lanka (Private) Limited

The Coca-Cola Company

Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

Ceylon Oxygen Ltd (part of the Linde Group of Companies)

Work highlights

  • Representing an Indian national in relation to several legal and administrative applications relating to the unjust termination and unsettled superannuation benefits against  the employer before several forums including the High Court of Colombo, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
  • Representing Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited against a claim made by a former CEO (a foreign national) for unpaid superannuation contributions and a further claim based on unjust/constructive termination. This matter is of substantial legal significance as it raises an important question of law on the eligibility of local superannuation schemes for foreign nationals already enjoying pension benefits through foreign based funds.
  • Providing strategic advice and direction to ICICI Bank in effecting the severance of employees attached to the client’s Sri Lankan branch as part of its closure of operations in Sri Lanka.

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan)

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan) is regularly instructed by some major corporates on a range of contentious and non-contentious labour and employment matters. The agile team is skilled at advising on the unlawful termination of employment and at representing clients before the labour department and tribunal as well as in court proceedings. In addition the team garners praise for its work on trade union negotiations, workforce reduction exercises and employee transfer schemes. Under the joint  leadership of Pranavan Neelakandan and Janani Rajeswara ,  the group is also a known name for its advice on voluntary resignation schemes, maternity benefits and other issues such as probation periods and annual contracts.

Key clients

First Capital PLC

United Tractor & Equipment (Private) Limited

The Design Group Five International (Private) Limited

VFS Lanka (Private) Limited

Lanka Hotels & Residencies (Private) Limited

Taisei Corporation of Japan

Neeyamo Inc. (U.S.)

Findmyfare (Private) Limited

Xinda Lanka (Private) Limited

Usha International Limited

Kuwait Airways

British Airways

Foysonis (Private) Limited

Gestetner of Ceylon PLC

CINEC Maritime Campus

Deel Inc

Work highlights

  • Recently advised Kuwait Airways on the applicable laws in Sri Lanka on terminating employees and the options of such termination due to stoppage of commercial operations for an indefinite time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also advised on the applicable laws for the deduction of salaries in lieu of termination and reviewed and advised the client on its contracts of employment.
  • Advising British Airways on a matter relating to the payment of pension to one of its employees.
  • Provided Findmyfare (Private) Limited with general advice on all its employment matters and specifically advised it on the retrenchment of staff due to the COVID 19 pandemic recently.

Tiruchelvam Associates

Tiruchelvam Associates has a portfolio of local and multinational clients in the manufacturing, power and energy sectors as well as in other areas such as pharmaceutical, information technology and the service sectors. It is also adept at advising on the employment aspects of cross-border deals in relation to employee share option schemes and receives plaudits for its work in assisting clients on data protection matters. Ramani Muttettuwegama  leads the group that is equally adept at advising employers and employees, and is known for her trade union law expertise. Michael Paiva heads the immigration practice at the firm.

Practice head(s):

Ramani Muttettuwegama

Other key lawyers:

Heshika Rupasinghe ; Michael Paiva


‘I worked with Heshika Rupasinghe and Ramani Muttettuwegema. They were very professional, corporative and experts in the field. Reponses were quick and they were very attentive at all times’.

‘We are happy with the support / advice received from Tiruchelvam, for the international client staff on hiring procedures and visa handling according to the local immigration compliances. I must say the advice we have received from the respective team was quite amazing. ’

‘Michael Paiva who has handled our account was available for any calls, and support’.

‘The team has been very supportive and responsive. Plus, the relationship has been smooth and effective’.

‘Assigned individuals know the company and history and are very friendly, supportive and flexible. Namely, Heshika Rupasinghe has been very supportive throughout’.

‘The expertise within the team is a main strength. The service provided is efficient, professional while maintaining good relationships. The expertise, professionalism and efficiency have been the notable qualities’.

Key clients

Studio M CMB (Pvt) Ltd

Hoist Support S L (Private) Limited


Work highlights

  • Reviewed the client’s templates of the offer letter and employment terms and conditions to ensure that they complied with local law.  
  • Advised the client on managing the employment remotely during the pandemic and the structuring of allowances from a labour and tax perspective.  
  • Advised on workforce restructuring as a part of the client’s global restructuring programme. Also advised the client on data protection and GDPR compliance from a Sri Lankan labour law perspective.  

F. J. & G. De Saram

At F. J. & G. De Saram the employment practice sits within its corporate department and advises various local and foreign clients on a range of employment matters, including advising on the transfer of employees and related redundancies, as well as on the labour ramifications of redundancies. Shehara Varia heads the department that enjoys a steady flow of instructions from some international law firms.

Practice head(s):

Shehara Varia

Other key lawyers:

Shevanthi Perera


Professional, service-orientated and helpful‘.

The team is very reactive and easy to work with. Very pragmatic approach to resolving  problems. I worked with Shevanthi Seresinhe-Perera. She is an outstanding lawyer. Very reliable answers and guidance in a country where I do not have any legal insight‘.

‘FJ&G De Saram has the best team to handle labour law and employment related matters. They are well experienced, and professional in client service and support. The team always comes up with the best solution in labour law issues in diverse industries’.

We have been taking services for the past 3 years from FJ &G De Seram, where they have segregated teams for each and every client. We have a designated lawyer for employment matters, and expert personnel for contract management which is unique compared to any other legal firm that I dealt during my 10-15 years career‘.

‘The team is extremely helpful and they are extremely knowledgeable and provide practical advice. We share a great professional working relationship. They have always gone above and beyond to help with legal matters. They are surely thoughtful and knowledgeable. Very professional and they achieve deadlines‘.

Key clients

Global Communities


Shangri-La Hotel Lanka (Private) Limited / Shangri-La Investments Lanka (Private) Limited


Persistent Systems Lanka (Private) Limited

Japan International Corporation Agency – Sri Lanka Office

Emirates Group

Pearson Lanka (Private) Limited

Dialog Axiata PLC

Work highlights

  • Reviewed for Fabristeel (Private) Limited the templates for the employment contract, confidentiality undertakings; non-compete agreement and advised it on matters arising therefrom in terms of Sri Lanka law.

Sudath Perera Associates

Sudath Perera Associates has an excellent reputation for its work on employment matters and industrial relations. Its client base includes multinationa businesses including airlines, media corporations, banks and trading companies. The team is highly regarded for its contentious work before courts, labour tribunals and in industrial arbitrations. Other strengths include advising on contracts of employment and on employee’s undertakings. Sudath Perera ; Manoj Bandara  and Thidas Herath are key members of the department that is also praised for its work at handling issues surrounding employee misconduct and all other employment related matters that arise during mergers and acquisitions, company closures and redundancies.


Sudath Perera Associates (SPA) has diverse expertise in all aspects/practice areas. SPA has a great case-success rate locally/globally. When we appointed SPA, we considered professionalism, expertise and ethicality to be of the utmost importance, which SPA demonstrated for many years, above and beyond our expectations. We’re very fortunate that we’ve made the right decision to retain SPA to be the total law logistical hub. They have innovative practices that stand above industry norms. Eg: e-billing, e-library, e-consultation/drafting, MS teams platform meetings & dialogues, client portfolio assessments & multi-stakeholder collaborations‘.

‘SPA staff/partners understand our business/operational model. They understand our HQ expectations and global industry environment in which we operate. Provides the client with solutions and a multi-faceted overview. It organises resources professionally and in a very transparent manner.  Client focus and delivery are unmatched. Trust, reliability & competency of staff and professional approach is a hallmark.’

Key clients

Fonterra Brands Lanka Private Limited

Toyota Lanka (Pvt) Ltd

Reckitt Benckiser

Maga Engineering (Pvt) Ltd

German Development Corporation

Coats Thread Exports (Pvt) Ltd

Ceylon Tobacco Corporation

Colombo Plan

GLC (Global Leading Conferences) Private Limited