Nigeria Labour Act obsolete, says lawyer
The Managing Partner of Hybrid Solicitors & Consult, Bimbo Atilola, has said that the Nigerian Labour Act enacted in 1974 has become obsolete, out-dated and devoid of any contemporary relevance.
He also urged the National Assembly to revisit the redundancy provisions of the Labour Act and borrow a leaf from the Employment Rights Act in the UK and even the Ghanaian Labour Act of 2003, which have wider provisions on redundancy.
According to him, the redundancy provisions of the Labour Act as contained in Section 20 is incapable of addressing the dynamics and complexities of the modern day redundancies.
“Apart from the fact that the Labour Act has no application to senior and management staff, its redundancy provisions is too basic and very scanty. For instance, the Act defines redundancy as involuntary loss of employment due to excess manpower, but today, organisations declare redundancies, not just as a result of excess manpower but due to a combination of many factors including corporate restructuring, business process outsourcing, manpower outsourcing, job offshoring and even a simple automation of processes,” he stated.
He noted that “while declaration of redundancy is a legitimate tool in the hands of employers of labour in period of economic recessions and the attendant declining business fortunes, the process should be executed in accordance with the law and best practices and with due regard to Collective Bargaining Agreements provisions, if any.”
Atilola made the statement while speaking as the Chief Host on the theme: ‘Mitigating and Managing Redundancies in an Economic Recession,’ at the 5th Annual Lecture & Luncheon of the law firm held in Lagos.
He also pointed out that unlike the Nigerian Labour Act which requires the employer to simply “inform” the trade unions of the reasons and extent of the redundancy, the Employment Rights Act in the United Kingdom talks about consultation with the unions.
Vice Chairman, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) Nigeria and the Chairman of the occasion, Tunde Busari (SAN), said the discussions on redundancy is topical. “What we are discussing is how to manage cases of redundancy, how to cope with it and mitigate it. Companies have to consider various other options in turning issues, problems and challenges into opportunities,” he stated.