A bill seeking criminalise late payment of wages, salaries, underpayment and arbitrary deduction of workers’ salaries has passed second reading at the Federal House of Representatives.
The bill, sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was introduced on 7 March 2019 and has now passed for second reading on Tuesday during plenary.
The bill proposes fines and punishment for delays in payment of salaries or breaches of contracts by employers.
Section 2 of the bill states that “Every employer of labour in Nigeria, whether private or public, and whether it is employing any worker on permanent or contract basis must ensure that all payment of wages, salaries, pension and all benefits to workers are paid promptly without delay weekly, fortnightly monthly, quarterly or yearly as may be agreed by parties in the contract of employment of the additional individuals.”
Section 3 (1a,b,c) also prohibits employers from arbitrarily subtracting from the wages or pension of workers unless expressly provided in the contract of engagement.
“The terms of the contract contained in a notice kept constantly affixed at such place or places open to the workman and in such a position that it should be seen easily read and copied by any person whom it affects or the contract is in writing signed by the workman unless the deduction or payment to be made under the contract does not exceed the actual or estimated damage or loss occasioned to the employer by the proven Act or omission of the workman or of some other person over whom he has control or for whom he has by the contract agreed to be responsible.”
Section 4 provides that “an employer shall not hold on to the salary, wage, pension or any other benefit and emolument of any workman for a period of seven days and above from the day the payment of such salary, wage, pension, and any other benefit and emolument falls due save in the event of any force majure.”
As a penalty, the bill seeks one-month imprisonment for any employer that owes salaries for more than 60 days.