Nigeria: Courts increasingly willing to order reinstatement of dismissed employees

Traditionally Nigerian courts have refused to force a willing employee on an unwilling employer. However, this approach seems to be changing.

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Nigeria: Courts increasingly willing to order reinstatement of dismissed employeesNigeria

By Ozofu Olatunde Ogiemudia (Partner) and Mary Ekemezie (Senior Associate), Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Lagos, Nigeria.

Traditionally Nigerian courts have refused to force a willing employee on an unwilling employer. However, this approach seems to be changing.

Historically Courts only granted an order of “specific performance” – effectively reinstating a dismissed employee in cases involving the public sector. In the private sector, all that an employee was likely to receive was an award for damages, and the size of awards was usually not of such a nature as would cause the employer to lose much sleep!

However, the National Industrial Court (“NIC”) has recently ordered the reinstatement of employees in a number of cases involving the private sector – typically where an approval required to terminate the employment relationship was not obtained or where termination occurred after industrial action.

Comment

The lesson for employers is to strictly adhere to the termination requirements prescribed in the employment contract. Failure to do so may ultimately result in an order of reinstatement which could have significant cost implications for employers, depending on the amount of time that elapses between the purported termination and the making of the order. In relation to employees that are members of trade unions, employers should be wary of terminating contracts of employment of unionised workers hot on the heels of industrial action.

© 2016 Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Ozofu Olatunde Ogiemudia and Mary Ekemezie 

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16th Nov
2016

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