By Christiana Ekpa
The House Representatives yesterday proposed amendment through second reading an Act to abolish the obnoxious practice of casualization of a worker’s employment by creating a new section 8 which provides that an employer has a period of not less than six (6) months of engaging a worker to regularize his appointment as a full and permanent staff.
The Lawmakers through the bill, equally provides that in the event of disengagement of a worker after a period of six (6) months from the date of first engagement without regularization, the worker shall be entitled to full salary, allowance and other beneiits due to a permanent staff upon disengagement.
The Bill Sponsored by Hon. Tasir Olawale Raji, (Lagos APC) seeks to amend “ the Labour Act to Prohibit and Criminalize Casualization of Employment of workers after Six Months of engagement by Employers in Nigeria, outsourcing employers in Nigeria, outstanding employment in the core area of operation and other related matters.
Raji in his lead debate revealed that, the Labour Act which is in two phases mandate the regularization of an employee’s employment after six (6) months of employment: “normally called probationary period and to punish any person or corporate entity in breach of the above with monetary penalty and jail terms by virtue of the new section 8.
He added that the Second amendment aimed at prohibiting the concept of outsourcing of employment in the employer’s core area of operation and also providing adequate penalty in cases of breach by the inclusion of the new section 9.
He said “generally, a worker is said to be in a state of employment, when he is being employed or having a job. It can also be said to be a state in which a person employed is remunerated for work done. Also, in some employments, employees may receive benefits in addition to payments such as; health insurance, housing scheme, disability insurance etc.
“On the other hand, a worker is said to be in a state of unemployment, when he is being unemployed or not having a job. This is occasioned by employable applicants not being able to secure a place of engagement as a result of demand deficiency, limited spaces to occupy, lack of employment opportunities, etc.
“Furthermore, a worker can be said to be in a state of disguised unemployment, when such a person is temporarily engaged and can be laid off at anything by the employer of labour. An example can be seen in the context of a contract staff, who is merely employed temporarily and can be laid off at any point. In such a situation, the worker will always be looking out for a better job that is permanent and suitable for his/her skills’
In his word, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria is currently estimated at 33.5 per cent. This estimate does not include workers in disguised unemployment constituted largely by workers in casual/contract employment.
“Currently, section 7 of the Labour Act provides that not later than three (3) months after the beginning of a worker’s employment, the employer shall give him a written statement 0f employment containing the terms and conditions of employment. However, under the extent law there is no adequate consequence for noncompliance.
“The proposed amendment is intended to abolish the obnoxious practice of casualization of a worker’s employment by creating a new section 8 which provides that an employer has a period of not less than six (6) months of engaging a worker to regularize his appointment as a full and permanent staff.
“It also provides that in the event of disengagement of a worker after a period of six (6) months from the date of first engagement without regularization, the worker shall be entitled to full salary, allowance and other beneiits due to a permanent staff upon disengagement. Provided that the worker has not been found liable of a criminal act involving fraud resulting to financial loss to the company.
According to him, “upon the breach of the above provision, the proposed section 8(3) paragraph (a-b) provides the punishment for a natural person and corporate bodies respectively.
Out-sourcing of jobs in an employer’s core area(s) of business.
He said that, the concept of outsourcing of employment within the core areas of business of an -”employer was not anticipated during enactment of the extant law and the employers of labour in Nigeria have exploited this lacuna in outsourcing of jobs within their core areas of business to the disadvantage of the Nigerian workers. These employers of labour have taken undue advantage of unemployment situation in the country to slave labour.
Employers in the banking, telecoms and the oil and gas industries are the worst culprits.
“To cure these anomalies, we have proposed a new section 9 which is to the effect that notwithstanding the provisions of section 25 of the extent Labour Act, employment outsourcing within an employer’s core area of business is prohibited and it will be an offence for a person or company to engage in such practice.
“In addition, upon the breach of the proposed section 9(1), section 9 (2) (a-b) provides the punishment with respect to a natural person and a corporate body respectively.
“Also, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has reiterated the need to fight against job outsourcing, especially in an organization’s core areas of operation. Also, multinational corporations in the telecoms, oil and gas sectors are currently contributing to the Nigeria economic crisis with their habit of outsourcing of workforce which an average Nigerian can be engaged in to other nationals thereby creating unemployment for its host country.
He concluded that after a critical examination of the provisions of the relevant laws and the practices as “we have currently in the employment sector, I humbly urge this Honourable House to support this amendment bill of the Labour Act to mandate the regularization of an employee’s employment after six (6) months of employment and to prohibit outsourcing of employment in the employer’s core areas of operation and to further punish those in breach of this employment law” he said.