Decent work, protection and well-being for migrant workers and their families in Sri Lanka


The programme aims to maximise the benefits of migration for sustainable development in Sri Lanka. It will support government institutions and other actors in implementing policies related to fair and ethical recruitment, skills development and provide reintegration support for returning migrants in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. A special focus is placed on elevating migrant workers’ voices in advocacy. The intervention creates entry points to engage with the newly elected government in Sri Lanka. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Sri Lanka
Migration
Labour migration
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
01.09.2020 - 31.08.2024
CHF  4’650’000
Background Labour migration is a key contributor to Sri Lanka’s economy. It also provides the rural poor with economic perspectives and reduces domestic employment pressure. In 2019, remittances flows amounted to 6.7 billion USD, a volume making up seven per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Currently, two million Sri Lankans work overseas, primarily in the Gulf States, where low and semi-skilled workers in the domestic, construction and hospitality sectors are high on demand. While labour migration has opened up opportunities, it also poses serious protection challenges such as fraudulent hiring practices, illegal wage deductions and excessive working hours. In addition, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in mass layoffs and increased the vulnerabilities of migrant workers, many of whom are stranded in the Countries of Destination. Over 40,000 migrant workers are awaiting repatriation from the Gulf States and need reintegration support.  
Objectives Sri Lankan women and men migrant workers and their families have improved their well-being and contribute positively to society and their country
Target groups

Primary: Women and men migrant workers and their families of all ethnic groups, relevant Government authorities, vocational training institutes and civil society.

Secondary: Licensed Foreign Employment Agents, private sector (i.e. employers and financial institutions), Trade Unions. 

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1
The Government of Sri Lanka implements policies securing the rights and protection of migrant workers and their families

Outcome 2
Migrant workers societies and network support their communities and influence policies

Outcome 3
Women and men migrant workers access gender-responsive skills qualification and have increased employability in local and global economies

Results

Expected results:  

The new phase will: (1) Capacitate government institutions to effectively implement labour migration policies and overall governance structures in the sector; (2) Mobilise migrant workers societies composed of returning migrants to provide community-support and to speak up for their rights; (3) Increase interest and access for skilled (foreign) employment.

Key outputs:

-    Foreign Employment Ministry’s systems
     and representatives are capable to review,
     coordinate and monitor efficient migration
     related policies.  

-    The Government of Sri Lanka develops
     actionable commitments in labour migartion
     coherent with regional policies and
      frameworks.

-    Women and men migrant workers receive
     peer support from migrant worker societies
     and networks.

-    Migrant workers’ contributions in policy
     dialogue is strengthened at district,
     national and regional level.

-    Women and men migrant workers access
     occupational guidance on skills development
     and (self-) employment.

-    Vocational Training Instructors understand
     (foreign) employer worker requirements
     and Employers are aware of benefits of hiring
     Sri Lankan migrant workers. 


Results from previous phases:  

The Sri Lanka Labour Migration Programme has supported the implementation of the National Labour Migration Policy putting particular emphasis on the provision of specialised services for migrant workers at the district level (pre-departure, protection and justice services).

-        Important advances were made in the implementation.
         Yet, complementary government financial provisions and well-trained          human resources are required to ensure full and sustainable policy
         implementation.

-       Returning migrants could play a more active role in service delivery
        and advocacy efforts to strengthen labour migration governance
        policies and systems.   

-       A pilot intervention under Phase 3 connecting migrant workers with
        skills training opportunities has generated interest for replication and
        expansion including for returning migrants.

-      COVID-19 outbreak highlights the Sri Lankan government’s lack of
        preparedness to address migrant workers’ concerns in a crisis situation. 


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • International Labor Organization
  • Other international or foreign NGO North


Other partners

Main Government counterparts: Foreign Employment Division of Ministry of Skills Development, Labour Relations and Employment

Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment. Other relevant state and non-state actors including civil society organisations, trade unions and the recruitment industry.

Coordination with other projects and actors

Decent Work portfolio of the Global Programme Migration and Development such as the South Asia and Middle East regional programme on labour migration, Global Solutions and more.

Synergies are created with regional programmes of the International Labour Organisation and International Organisation for Migration as well as SDC South Cooperation programmes in the region. 

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’650’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    926’770
Project phases Phase 4 01.09.2020 - 31.08.2024   (Current phase) Phase 3 01.03.2016 - 31.12.2020   (Completed)