Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), the umbrella organization of employers in the Organised Private Sector of Nigeria has issued a circular advising employers that the law has moved from the practice where an employer could terminate contracts of employment with or without reason, provided the termination is with notice or payment in lieu of notice.
STATUS OF THE LAW ON TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT
As you are probably aware, the practice where an employer could terminate contracts of employment with or without reason, provided the termination is with notice or payment in lieu of notice, is no longer the position.
The above position is based on some judicial pronouncements, such as the case of: Duru vs. Skye Bank Plc (2015) 59 N.L.L.R (Pt. 207) 680, Aloysius vs. Diamond Bank Plc  58 N.L.L.R 92. In fact, in the case of Bello Ibrahim vs. EcoBank Plc – NICN/ABJ/144/2018, it was held that an employer is bound to give reasons for terminating the employment of an employee, the absence of which such termination will be rendered ineffectual and declared wrongful.
In arriving at its decision, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) relied on their powers provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the NICN Act to give effect to International Labour Standards and Best Practices. The NICN thus, relied on Article 4 of Termination of Employment Convention of 1982 No. 158 of International Labour Organisation (ILO), which states: “the employment of a worker shall not be terminated unless there is a valid reason for such termination connected with the capacity or conduct of the worker or based on the operational requirements of the undertaking, establishment or service”.
In the light of the foregoing, it is imperative for Employers to note the expanded jurisdiction of the NICN in determining Labour matters. It is expedient, henceforth, for Employers to be diligent in disciplinary records documentation as it may come handy in times of need. Furthermore, employers are urged to be more circumspect in their dealings and relationship with their employees, and always ensure the determinations of an employment relationship are with justifiable reasons, in order to avoid litigation that might become distractive, unnecessary and expensive.
Dr. Timothy Olawale