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Defaulting employers risk N1m fine as senate seeks stiffer penalties for labour offences

 

A bill seeking to fine employers as high as N1 million for labour offences has passed second reading at the senate.

In total, the bill is seeking to amend 11 sections of the labour act of 2004. The current penalties in the 11 sections range between N100 and N800.

 

The upper legislative chamber passed the bill on Tuesday after Ezenwa Onyewuchi, senator representing Imo east, moved a motion and led a debate on it.

 

While leading the debate, Onyewuchi said the fines in the current labour law are obsolete and would not be able to protect workers.

“The present fines for offenses in the Nigerian labour act are obsolete in context and content,” the legislator said.

 

“The sanction, penalty and interest payable under the act are ridiculously low and do not reflect current economic realities. These current provisions cannot provide the needed protection for workers in the labour market.

 

“There is therefore a need to review these penalties/fines upwards in order to achieve fair and harmonious employee relations.”

Also speaking, Sabi Abdullahi, senate deputy whip, said the amendment is “timely”.

 

“I want to lend my support to this very critical amendment in the Labour Act. I feel this amendment is very timely,” Abdullahi said.

 

Below are the sections of the labour act the bill is seeking to amend and the new fines.

SECTION

OFFENCE

OLD FINE

PROPOSED  FINE

21

Breach of terms and conditions of employment as it relates to the wage hour, nature of employment, leave, contracts of employment among others

N800 for first offence, N1500 for second or subsequent offences

N500,000 and N1,000,000

46

Neglect or ill treatment of workers by employers

N500

N500,000

47

Recruitment of employees without an employee’s permit or recruiters license

N200 for first offence, N2,000 for second or subsequent offences

N500,000 and N1,000,000

53

Inducement of apprentice to leave service of employment

N500 for first offence, N200 for second or subsequent offences

N300,000 and N200,000

58

Denial of maternity protection and employment of women in underground work or mines

N200 for first offence, N100 for second or subsequent offences

N200,000 and N100,000

64

Employment of young persons in unreasonable circumstances e.g industries

N100

N200,000

67 and 68

Breach of regulations of the Minister as they relate to Labour health areas and registration of employers

N1,500

N250,000

72

Offences committed by persons with intent to deceive in the employment of labour)

N1000 for first offence, N500 for second or subsequent offences

N300,000 and N200,000

74

Breach of regulations made by the Minister with respect to Labour required in emergencies and for communal obligations

N200 for first offence, N10 for second or subsequent offences

N30,000 and N10,000

75 and 76

Contravention of records of wages and conditions of employment; returns and statistics of employees

N200

N300,000

85 and 88

Costs in court and fines for regulations made by the minister

N50 for first offence, N500 for second or subsequent offences

N50,000 and N500,000

 

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