Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
What would labour look like in Nigeria if all workers were covered by the current Labour act? At the moment, the act only considers someone to be an employee only if they are under a contract of manual labor or clerical work in the private and public sector. In other words, the Act does not include people whose roles are administrative, executive, professional, and technical. We spoke to Christian Nwachukwu, a Nigerian attorney and a lead at TalkCounsel on the importance of the act covering all workers, including sex workers and people with non-conventional job descriptions.
Below are some of Nwachukwu’s thoughts on the subject.
- Economic Incentive: “Assuming the definition of “Employee” under the Act is expanded to include administrative, executive, professional, technical and sex workers, the economy would witness an economic improvement. That is, more people will be willing to work because they are protected from substandard working conditions, which in turn will generate taxes that will finance investments and infrastructural developments in Nigeria. Besides, legalizing prostitution extends further than just those involved in the sex industry. Allowing brothels to operate legally and publicly generates substantial revenue for the state as well. The ripple effect of legalizing prostitution and expanding the definition of a worker/employee in the Act to include a sex worker would reduce the number of people at risk of forced prostitution and human trafficking.”
- Legal Protection: “Expanding the definition of workers/employees to include administrative, executive, professional, technical and sex workers guarantees the under-listed legal protections.”
- Written Contract: “The labor law states that an employer must give an employee a written contract within 3 months of the commencement of the employment. The cardinal point here is to ensure that the employee is protected by all relevant points being reduced to writing so the employee knows what is expected of him.”
- Payment of Wages: “With this provision, the employee is protected from employers who choose to pay them with a tender that is not a legal tender. Also, the employee is protected from employers who insist on how and where the employee must spend his/her wage.”
- Rest Hours, Sick Leave, and Holidays for All Employees: “This provision guarantees, that the employee is provided with an appropriate rest period, sick leave, and holidays to avoid substandard working cultures.”
- Termination of Employment: “With respect to the termination of employment, the Act provides for minimum notice periods. This provision protects employees from short termination notice and provides them with a substantial term to look for another job or seek redress when the termination notice is short of the statutory requirement.”
- Legal Redress: “Where a worker is exposed to a substandard working condition, the worker can only seek redress before a competent court of law only if the worker is protected under the Act. In other words, if a worker is not covered by the Act, he/she can’t seek any form of redress under the Act. Unfortunately, in most cases, this would affect the worker’s productivity and mental health that might fast-track the worker quitting the job.”