ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations
ILO-en-strap
Go to the home page
Site map | Contact us franšais | español
> GOVERNANCE - home > Employment protection legislation database - EPLex >

Nigeria
 


Source and scope of regulations - 2013    

References
  • Labour Act [LA] of 1974 as amended, Chapter 198 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990
    Date: 1990; view website » (view in NATLEX »)
Scope
Size of enterprises excluded (≤): none
Workers' categories excluded: civil/public servants; police; army; managerial / executive positions; seafarers; employer's family members; flying personnel
Remarks:
  • The LA only applies to a 'worker' which is defined as any person who has entered into a contract (of service) with an employer, whether the contract is for manual or clerical work, or is express or implied, or oral or written (sec. 91(1) LA). The LA definition also excludes:
    * any person not employed for the purposes of the employer's business;
    * persons exercising administrative, executive, technical or professional functions;
    * members of the employer's family (also excluded by sec. 21 of the LA);
    * representatives, agents and commercial travellers, to the extent their work is carried out outside the employer's permanent workplace;
    * any person to whom articles or materials are given out to be made up, cleaned, washed, altered, ornamented, finished, repaired or adapted for sale in his own home or on other premises not under the control or management of the person who gave out the articles or the material; or
    * any person employed in a vessel or aircraft to which the laws regulating merchant shipping or civil aviation apply.
    In addition, members of the armed forces and police are excluded from the LA (sec. 89(2)).


Collective agreements
Collective agreements regulating redundancy exist in some economic sectors.


Types of employment contracts - 2013    

+ show references

Maximum probationary (trial) period: no limitation

Remarks:
  • There is no maximum statutory probationary period.
    The LA requires the employer to give his/her employees a written statement specifying the term of employment within 3 months form the beginning of a worker's period of employment (sec. 7(1) LA).
    Note that since the LA does not exclude probationary employees from its ambit, the statutory notice periods (see below) also apply to probationary employees.

Fixed term contract (FTC):
  • FTC regulated: No
    Remarks:
    • Employment contracts are governed by the contract law (common law). That means that according to the principle of freedom of contract, the conditions and terms of the contract depend on the will of the parties.
      The LA only provides that the date of expiry of fixed-term contract must be specified other things in the written contract of employment which shall given to the employee no later than three months after the beginning of employment (sec. 7(1)d) LA).
      In addition the common law position that contracts for a fixed term or fixed amount of work expire according to their terms is codified in sec. 9(7)(a) of the LA. There are no further statutory regulations of fixed-term contracts.
  • Valid reasons for FTC use: no limitation
  • Maximum number of successive FTCs: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • No statutory regulations providing for limitations on the number of renewals.
  • Maximum cumulative duration of successive FTCs: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • No statutory regulations providing for a maximum duration of successive FTCs.

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - 2013    

+ show references

Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: No
Remarks:
  • No statutory obligation to inform the worker of the grounds of termination.


Valid grounds (justified dismissal): none
Remarks:
  • - Under Nigerian Law, employment contracts can be terminated at will. This principle of common law has been codified in sec. 11(1) of the LA which provides that: "(1) Either party to a contract of employment may terminate the contract on the expiration of notice given by him to the other party of his intention to do so".
    - The LA (sec. 11(5)) also expressly retains the common law right of an employer to summarily dismiss an employee for gross misconduct. In addition, the LA also the employer's ability to dismiss on the grounds of redundancy. 'Redundancy' is defined as "an involuntary and permanent loss of employment caused by an excess of manpower"(sec. 20 LA).
    It is worth noting that according to secondary sources, there have been developments in the case law which contrast with the principle of termination at will. See: Chioma Kanu Agomo, 'Part I. Individual Employment Relations' (August 2010), in Prof. Dr R. Blanpain, Prof. Dr M. Colucci (Eds.), International Encyclopaedia for Labour Law and Industrial Relations (Kluwer Law International BV, The Netherlands), p. 23, para. 272: According to sec. 7(4) of the National Industrial Court Act (2006), in exercising its jurisdiction or any powers conferred upon it by its Act or any other enactment or law, the Court is to consider 'good or international best practice in labour or industrial relations'.
    The National Industrial Court has used this provision in the area of termination of employment and stated in the Pengassan case, that " it is no longer fashionable in industrial relations law and practice to terminate an employment relationship without adducing any valid reason for such termination'.


Prohibited grounds: pregnancy; maternity leave; trade union membership and activities
Remarks:
  • - Sec. 9 (6) b) LA prohibits the dismissal of worker
    "(i) by reason of trade union membership, or
    (ii) because of trade union activities outside working hours or, with the consent of the employer, within working hours, or
    (iii) by reason of the fact that he has lost or been deprived of membership of a trade union or has refused or been unable to become, or for any other reason is not, a member of a trade union."
    - Sec. 54(4) LA prohibits the employer from giving a notice of dismissal to a woman during her maternity leave (6 weeks before the delivery of the child and 6 weeks after). This prohibition also apply to a women who is absent from her work for a longer period as a result of illness certified by a registered medical practitioner to arise out of her pregnancy or confinement and to render her unfit for work.




Workers enjoying special protection: pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave
Remarks:
  • Sec. 54(4) LA prohibits the employer from giving a notice of dismissal to a woman during her maternity leave (6 weeks before the delivery of the child and 6 weeks after). This prohibition also apply to a women who is absent from her work for a longer period as a result of illness certified by a registered medical practitioner to arise out of her pregnancy or confinement and to render her unfit for work.


Procedural requirements for individual dismissals - 2013    

+ show references

Notification to the worker to be dismissed: written

Remarks:
  • Sec. 11(3) LA: Any notice for a period of one week or more shall be in writing.

Notice period:
Remarks:
  • Sec. 11(2) LA sets out statutory minimum notice periods as follows:
    * for less than three months of service, one day;
    * for three months to two years of service, one week;
    * for two to five years of service, two weeks; and
    * for more than five years of service, one month.
    The above periods are statutory minima which can be improved upon by collective agreements or contracts of employment.
    • tenure ≥ 6 months
      • 1 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 9 months
      • 1 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 1 year
      • 1 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 2 years
      • 2 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 4 years
      • 2 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 5 years
      • 1 month(s).
    • tenure ≥ 10 years
      • 1 month(s).
    • tenure ≥ 20 years
      • 1 month(s).

    Pay in lieu of notice: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 11(6) LA.

    Notification to the public administration: No

    Notification to workers' representatives: No

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Procedural requirements for collective dismissals for economic reasons (redundancy, retrenchment) - 2013    

    + show references

    Definition of collective dismissal (number of employees concerned):
    No statutory definition of collective dismissal (no number specified)
    The LA only defines redundancy as "involuntary and permanent loss of employment caused by an excess of manpower".

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 20(3) LA.

    Prior consultations with trade unions (workers' representatives): No

    Remarks:
    • No mandatory consultations with the trade union or worker's representatives in the event of redundancy. The employer is only required to inform then of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy (sec. 20(1)(a) LA).


    Notification to the public administration: No

    Notification to workers' representatives: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 20(1)(a) LA: In the event of redundancy, the employer shall inform the trade union or workers' representative concerned of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy.

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Priority rules for collective dismissals (social considerations, age, job tenure): Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 20(1)(b) LA: the principle of "last in, first out" shall be adopted in the discharge of the particular category of workers affected, subject to all factors of relative merit, including skill, ability and reliability.

    Employer's obligation to consider alternatives to dismissal (transfers, retraining...): No

    Priority rules for re-employment: No

    Severance pay and redundancy payment - 2013    

    + show references

    Severance pay:
    Remarks:
    • No statutory severance pay.
    • tenure ≥ 6 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 9 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 1 year: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 2 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 4 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 5 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 10 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 20 years: 0 month(s)
    Redundancy payment:
    Remarks:
    • No statutory redundancy pay.
      Sec. 20 LA provides that in the event of redundancy:
      "(1)(c) the employer shall use his best endeavours to negotiate redundancy payments to any discharged workers who are not protected by regulations made under subsection (2) of this section;
      (2) The Minister may make regulations providing, generally or in particular cases, for the compulsory payment of redundancy allowances on the termination of a worker's employment because of his redundancy".
      No such regulations have been adopted so far.
    • tenure ≥ 6 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 9 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 1 year: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 2 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 4 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 5 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 10 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 20 years: 0 month(s)

    Notes / Remarks
    There is no general statutory severance pay or redundancy pay, although there is provision for the Minister of Labour to enact regulations providing for severance pay to redundant workers (pursuant to sec. 20(2) of the LA). As of 2010, no such regulations have been adopted.
    Severance pay is often regulated by the contract of employment and sectoral (branch) collective agreements. Severance pay is usually calculated depending on the length of service and the last salary of the worker.

    Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - 2013    

    + show references

    Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Remedies for unlawful termination (breach of contract) or wrongful dismissal without notice are limited to damages for the equivalent amount the employee would have been entitled to, had the contract not been unlawfully terminated. Therefore, in the event of unlawful termination, the employee is entitled to compensation equivalent to what the employee would have earned during the notice period.
      In the event of wrongful dismissal without notice (for gross misconduct), the damages awarded corresponds to the amount the worker would have earned if he or she had continued working under the employment contract until this contract was lawfully terminated.
      Nigerian law excludes damages for injured feelings (following the English case of Addis v. Gramophone Co. [1908] AC 488.)

    Reinstatement available: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Reinstatement is only available in limited circumstances (in particular, when the termination was based on the employee's trade union activities).

      See: Chioma Kanu Agomo, 'Part I. Individual Employment Relations' (August 2010), pp. 39┐72, in Prof. Dr R. Blanpain, Prof. Dr M. Colucci (Eds.), International Encyclopaedia for Labour Law and Industrial Relations (Kluwer Law International BV, The Netherlands), pp. 62-63, paras. 158-159:
      " The regular courts have consistently declined employee's request for reinstatement as appropriate remedy for wrongful termination (see Chukwuma v. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (1993) 4 NWLR 512; Sule v. Nigerian Cotton Board (1985) 2 NWLR 17; New Nigeria Bank Ltd v. Oniovosa (1995) 7 NWLR 691)"
      This principle applies to the private sector, reinstatement is an available remededy for wrongful termination in the public sector.
      The National Industrial Court has recognized that reinstatement can be ordered in two cases: the first one being when the termination is the result of the trade union activities of the employees prohibited under sec. 9(2) LA, the second one being (in line with the ordinary courts rulings) when an office or employment has a 'statutory flavour', which means that its conditions of service are provided for and protected by statute or regulations and any person holding that office or in that employment enjoys a special status. If the procedure laid down by the applicable statute for dismissing such a person is not complied with, then the dismissal will be null and void, and the person will be reinstated.

    Preliminary mandatory conciliation: No

    Remarks:
    • No information found.

    Competent court(s) / tribunal(s): ordinary courts; labour court

    Remarks:
    • Until the adoption of the National Industrial Court Act (2006), individual employment claims (including on wrongful terminations) were only handled by ordinary court. However the 2006 Act now confers jurisdiction to the National Industrial Court over individual employment disputes.

    Existing arbitration: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Only trade disputes can be referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel. This institution does not generally deal with individual or rights disputes unless these disputes are part of a trade dispute. A trade dispute includes any "dispute or difference between employers and workers which is connected with the employment or non-employment of any person".
      In any cases, an individual employment dispute can always be settled by private arbitration if the parties so agree.

    Source of additional information - 2013    

    + show references