NSITF may take defaulters of employees’ scheme to court
*Pays N789m to injured workers, registers 16,000 employers in 10 months
The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is set to drag companies that are yet to enrol their staffers on the Employees Compensation Scheme.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who handed down the directive when he paid official visit to the corporate headquarters of the Fund in Abuja, recently explained that the defaulting firms are not only shortchanging their staffers but putting their health status at risk.
His words: “I want the NSITF to drag more recalcitrant companies to court over infractions. And I want as many companies as possible to go to court for not obeying the law of the land and the legal department must be active in this regard. The companies that are not complying are shortchanging their workers because, in those places, workers are still treating themselves when they sustain injury in the course of work. This is completely unfair and government will not sit by and watch Nigerian workers suffer unnecessarily. We want the little money they earn to stay in their pockets. Employers have the responsibility towards their employees and they must be made to fulfil those responsibilities, which employees’ compensation scheme is a major part.”
Ngige insisted that all businesses, enterprises and companies that have more than five persons as workers must enroll their workers on the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS).
He charged the Fund to collaborate with relevant agencies like Federal Inland Revenue Several (FIRS), National Pension Commission on gathering of database of Nigerian companies and where they are located.
According to the Minister, though Nigeria is yet to ratify ILO Convention 102 on social security fully, the country is operating many of the branches of the Convention that include health insurance, conditional cash transfer and other social intervention programmes.
Ngige stressed that the registration of 16,000 within 10 months when Nigeria’s economy is going through recession, it shows the capacity of the staffers to achieve even more when the economy bounces back.
Speaking earlier, the Acting Managing Director of NSITF, Ismail Agaka, hinted that the Fund presently has 11 regional offices, 55 branches and staff strength of about 5,000.
He also explained that since the commencement of the scheme on 1st July, 2011, 51, 576 employers have been registered out of which 16,000 were registered between February and November this year.
He added: “We have paid benefits to 8, 813 workers to the due of about N789 million while there are 138 families on monthly dependent benefits. Amongst these families is one that earns N1,580,000 per month. We have others who earn far less than that because compensation benefit is function of the level of contribution.”
The NSITF Chief said the collaboration with the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) on safety issues in the workplace has raised safety standards in the workplace.
He mentioned the reluctance of employers of labour to register on the scheme as one of the major challenges confronting the Fund.
Agaka revealed that following the ministerial directive on the prosecution of recalcitrant employers, NSITF would soon drag such employers to court for prosecution.
“We also have a few challenges that include defaulting employers. If you recall, early this year the Minister ordered us to enforce compliance and we are happy to inform that the directive has spurred employers to comply with the law. We are in the process of taking other employers that have remained recalcitrant to court for prosecution,” he stated.
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