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NSITF, industrial court to collaborate on enforcement of compensation scheme

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[FILE PHOTO] NSITF office


Plans are underway by the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), to collaborate for the effective enforcement of the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS).The Managing Director of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun, disclosed this when he led the management team of the Fund on a courtesy call to the Acting President of NICN, Hon. Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip.
Somefun highlighted that NICN is vested with exclusive jurisdiction on all labour, employment and allied matters.
   
“This was settled by Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 vide the third alteration Act, 2010. In addition, Section 55 (4) of the ECA 2010 provides that “an appeal shall lie from any decision of the Board under sub-section (1) of this section to the National Industrial Court,” he explained.Somefun stressed that that the collaboration between NSITF and NICN would include addressing matters relating to non-compliance with the provisions of the ECA 2010, be handled expediently without delay, and matters relating to appeals from any decision of the Board amongst other matters.
  
He said the Fund has embraced the responsibility for payment of compensation to employees or their dependents qualified under the Employees Compensation Act (ECA) 2010, for any death, injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment.He added that NSITF also provides rehabilitation of disabled employees, and is in the process of Occupational Health and safety Standards at workplace for prevention of accidents and disabilities as provided in Section 1 (a), (b), (c) and (f) of ECA 2010.He said: “Furthermore, NSITF pays Medical Expenses Refund (MER) to employers that incur expenses in treating an employee, who sustains injury in the course of employment. NSITF makes provision for loss of productivity claims by an employer where an employee is unable to resume work due to injury or disease suffered in the course of employment, and the salary is still being paid by the employer.”
   
He further explained that the objectives of the ECA 2010 is to provide for an open and fair system of guaranteed and adequate compensation for all employees or their dependents in case of death, injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment.
   
“It is also the objective of the Act to combine efforts and resources of relevant stakeholders for the prevention of workplace disabilities, including the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards,” he added.
   
Somefun hinted that the prevention of workplace accident as prescribed by the Fund in line with International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards is also being vigorously pursued by the Fund. He said the operations of the Fund in implementing the provisions of the ECA have over the years been full of numerous challenges. He identified refusal by employers to make the mandatory contribution of one per cent of gross payroll to NSITF despite the effort of the Fund in placing officers in the field for the purpose of enforcement and compliance as a formidable challenge.
   
Somefun added: “Some of these employers have been issued demand notices and pre-action notices by the Fund to ensure compliance or face litigation, but they have refused to respond positively even after the expiration of these notices.”
   
In his remark, Hon. Justice Kanyip called for periodic interactions between NSITF and his court.However, he added that to show objectivity, such interactions should include stakeholders of the Fund such as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), saying: “when all the stakeholders are present, then there is a basis to talk without one side accusing the other.”
  
Justice Kanyip emphasised the need for enlightenment on the Employees’ Compensation Scheme, saying with proper knowledge of the scheme, lawyers would be better equipped to handle cases of industrial disputes.While expressing appreciation for the visit from NSITF Executive, the Industrial Court President stressed that they are there to administer justice, adding: “We do justice and ensure the quality is good. If one does not agree, luckily they can go to appeal.”
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Adebayo SomefunNSITF
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