The employees’ unpaid wages prohibition bill of 2019, has been reported to scale through the second reading at the house of representatives.
The bill which is titled ‘A Bill for an act to prohibit late non-payment, and underpayment of workers wages and other emoluments in Nigeria’, prescribes penalties for violations.
The bill was proposed to the house of reps by the Speaker of the House Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who introduced it on the 7th of March 2019, and has now passed the second reading on Tuesday during plenary.
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Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila stated that the bill seeks to provide for the ban of late payment, non-payment, and underpayment of workers’ wages in Nigeria and prescribes punishment for breaches and other issues.
It also seeks to provide compensation for employees as well as improve the general welfare conditions of employment for labor in Nigeria.
The law prescribes that in case of a breach concerning other monetary benefits separate from the monthly pension, the fine shall be 30 percent of such financial benefits for that period.
Gbajabiamila further suggested a time frame and penalty schedule for unpaid wages or pensions if the employer or employee breached the law for more than two months.
The bill partly reads, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any Act or any other enactment or law, the provision of this Act shall apply to all matters about payment of wages, pension, benefits and other emoluments by employers to workers in Nigerian.
What The Bill Says;
“An employer is prohibited from entering into any contract with any workman for any deduction from the sum contracted to be paid by the employer to the workman, or for any payment to the employer by the workman for or in respect of inadequate or negligent work or injury to the material or other property of the employer or respect of any fine unless.
“(a) 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.
“Every employer of labor 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)
Prohibits employers from making arbitrary deductions 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.”
“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 punishment, the bill seeks one-month imprisonment for any employer that owes salaries for more than 60 days.
The passing of the bill is a welcome development that will correct some mischievous acts by some employers in the country. Some employers do not adhere to contracts, rather they breach them and do whatever they like, constantly treating employees unfairly.
Some of these employees have been plagued by late or non-payment of salaries, as heartless employers exploit the lack of legislation prohibiting the practice in the country.