Commuting Time and Travel Reimbursement

Commuting time with regard to work is the amount of time utilized to travel from your place of residence to your workplace. Does the law in Sri Lanka cover commuting time and reimbursement?

What is commuting time?

Commuting time with regard to work is the amount of time utilized to travel from your place of residence to your workplace. This period of time can vary from person to person, depending on the areas of both the residence as well the workplace, the mode of transport, and the route utilized for travel. Furthermore, the time for reporting to work will also be a factor in the measurement of commuting time.

Does labour law cover commuting time?

In Sri Lanka, the labour law does not cover commuting time, in that attendance records do not compensate for distance travelled or time utilized to get to the workplace. As such delays in getting to work on time generally result in either the employee being penalized by short leave (which is a leave component of 1 ½ hours allowed twice a month) being cut or if the delay in reporting to work is over perhaps two hours, then a half-day of leave is cut from the workers leave entitlement. This late time period penalty is decided by the individual organizations.

However, in the event of strike action by public transport workers, the rules pertaining to attendance on time are relaxed to accommodate late arrivals.

Does the commuting time form part of working hours?

In Sri Lanka, commuting time does not form part of the working hours of a day. Thus the hours spent getting to work and back home, are not considered in the computation of a worker’s contribution towards the organization.

Are commuting hours paid for in Sri Lanka?

While commuting hours are not compensated for in terms of financial reimbursements, some organizations provide office transport for their staff, in order to facilitate timely working hours and better productivity. Since women workers who work until 10 p.m. at night are not entitled to transport to their lodgings they have to be provided accommodation at the workplace, or the women travel home alone at night. While there may be a few private sector organizations that do provide their workers transport facilities when they work until 10 p.m., the majority do not consider this a necessity since they are not mandated to under the law.

Workers in the railway, police and some other public sector workers are entitled to free travel on public transport during working hours.

What if the commuting time takes up more than a working day?

In the event commuting takes up more hours than a working day, then the worker is expected to source lodgings closer to the workplace. Some manufacturing organizations provide lodging facilities within the premises for workers who reside and travel from far away.

What strategies or benefits are provided to employees to avoid time loss during commuting to work?

  • Some organizations provide office transport facilities for their staff at least from main collection points.
  • Similarly some organizations provide shuttle services in order to transport their workers to the main bus stands or train stations. These facilities cut down drastically on commuting time as well as cost of travel for the workers.
  • Some organizations, depending on their staff cadre, provide vehicles/ and or fuel for the upper and middle management as a benefit to the salary package.
  • Some manufacturing organizations take care of their workers and provide in-house lodgings or external boarding facilities as part of a welfare package.
  • Some organizations allow for flexi-hours, but insist on a set of core hours being maintained.
  • Depending on the job requirements, some workers who can deliver while working from home are allowed to do so.
  • Work is also sometimes outsourced to external consultants. These strategies not only reduce commuting time, but also overhead costs for the organization.
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