The Public Administration Ministry has suspended its decision to impose a dress code for state-sector employees.
This came after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe opposed the move to re-implement a 30-year old circular which stipulates a dress code for public sector employees – shirt and trouser or national costume for men and saree or osari for women.
Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara told the Sunday Times the decision was put on hold and the issue would be taken up for discussion at the Government Parliamentary group meeting tomorrow to reach consensus on the dress code.
“We will be taking into consideration whether a dress code should be introduced or whether changes should be brought to the existing circular,” he said.
A senior official of the Prime Minister’s Office said the Prime Minister was of the opinion that the circular would have to be changed if a dress code was to be implemented.
The Public Administration Ministry had earlier decided to implement the dress code circular from tomorrow, raising concern among thousands of employees who already used to a particular dress than those stipulated in the circular.
Ministry Secretary J.J. Ratnasiri earlier told the Sunday Times that the Presidential Secretariat had given its consent to re-implement the circular issued in 1989 and accordingly they had decided to go ahead with it.
He said the dress code was being reintroduced to ensure that a common law was in place.
He said if changes were required the Cabinet would have to make a decision.
The move to implement a dress code came after a spate of incidents where there had been protests over wearing of certain types of dress to public offices and schools. In one such incident, a group of teachers had not been allowed to school on the grounds that they were not dressed in saree, but instead wearing abayas.
However, in the event of the implementation of the old circular, several female public sector employees who do not wear the Saree or the Osariya also would have been force to change their dress.
Ceylon Teachers Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin said the government move to make the saree and osari essential for working women in state sector was unfair.
He said that, in most public institutions and in schools, there were women employees and teachers who came dressed in skirt and blouse or an appropriate dress convenient for them.