Nigeria: Courts requiring Employers to give reasons for the Termination of Employment

Save for dismissals for misconduct, the general position under Nigerian law has been that an employer is not obliged to give reasons for terminating an employee’s contract where such termination is with notice or payment in lieu of notice.

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Nigeria: Courts requiring Employers to give reasons for the Termination of EmploymentNigeria

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

Save for dismissals for misconduct, the general position under Nigerian law has been that an employer is not obliged to give reasons for terminating an employee’s contract where such termination is with notice or payment in lieu of notice.

However, this fairly settled principle of Nigerian labour and employment law appears to be changing as demonstrated by some recent decisions of the National Industrial Court (“NIC”) – notably the cases of Duru v Skye Bank Plc, and Aloysius v Diamond Bank Plc.

In these cases the NIC held that an employer is bound to give reasons for terminating an employee’s contract. The NIC has relied on its powers to have due regard to, and apply, international labour standards and international best practices.

The NIC has, for instance, relied on the International Labour Organisation’s termination of Employment Convention 1982 (No. 158) (the “Convention”) which, even though not yet ratified by Nigeria, reflects international best practice with respect to the termination of contracts of employees. Among other things, the Convention provides that an employment relationship shall not be terminated unless there is a valid reason for such termination.

Comment

These decisions show that, for the first time, Nigerian courts are actively relying on, and introducing into Nigerian law, international best practice in relation to employment relationships. The effect of this is that employers are now compelled to ensure substantive and procedural fairness with respect to the termination of employment relationships.

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

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16th Nov
2016

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