OCTOBER 30, 2020 BY CHARINDRA
Almost two-thirds of 140,000 employees in Sri Lanka’s leading companies are struggling to meet personal and family financial obligations due to the impact of Covid-19, a new report revealed.
The report, “Gendered Impacts of Covid-19 on Employment in the Private Sector”, by Women in Work, a partnership between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – and the Australian Government, highlights that almost three quarters of the companies surveyed experienced a negative impact on revenue as a result of the pandemic.
The report is based on a survey conducted among 15 leading Sri Lankan companies across a range of sectors – banking and finance, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), information technology, garments, and manufacturing. The companies surveyed employ more than 140,000 employees, including almost 85,000 women.
According to the study, female employees were more likely to have experienced increased hours, remote working, a change in job role, or to have been re-allocated to a different business unit or work location. Moreover, female employees faced the greatest stress in terms of meeting increased electricity and other utility bills, compared to their male counterparts.
“Covid-19 has changed workplace dynamics radically. Among many other things, ‘working from home’ has become the new normal. Our research shows that despite household responsibilities and additional hours of work, women have reported an increased level of productivity during this period as compared to men,” said IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives Amena Arif. “We think that this new setup has allowed more women to better manage work and home fronts. This also presents an opportunity for employers to reassess certain company policies to best suit the needs of their employees.”
The report also found that one in five respondents reported to be concerned about possible job loss, and one in 10 said they may need to find new employment. Two out of five employees surveyed said they may need to supplement their income, while one-third of them believed they would need to upskill or retrain in a new area. In addition, almost one-third of employees surveyed experienced a salary reduction and almost 40% of them had their benefits reduced due to the pandemic.
The latest IFC-DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) findings also offer recommendations to better support working men and women in the private sector. These include developing meaningful flexible work policies, supporting staff – particularly women – with access to technology, introducing safe transportation, and providing mental health and wellness support.
A similar assessment by Women in Work, “Gendered Impacts of Covid-19 on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Sri Lanka”, presented a snapshot of the pandemic’s impacts on the country’s small and medium enterprises.
IFC is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets present in more than 100 countries.