The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed for second reading a bill seeking to amend the Labour Act to criminalise casualisation of workers in Nigeria.
The bill, which seeks to prohibit engagement of casual workers beyond six months, was sponsored by Olawale Raji (APC, Lagos).
Leading the debate for the general principles of the bill, Mr Raji said the bill seeks to add a clause to the Act which provides that every worker shall enjoy full employment benefits as a permanent staff after six months of engagement.
The lawmaker stated that section 8 of the Act states that ‘every worker in Nigeria engaged or employed and has remained in such employment for a period of not less than six months shall have his engagement regularised by the employer as a full and permanent staff.”
He said such employer also will be entitled to all accompanying benefits.
“Any employer who disengages a worker after a period of six months from the date of first engagement without regularising the worker’s employment shall at the date of disengagement pay to the worker full salary, allowances and entitlements due to a permanent staff for two months provided the worker has not been found liable of any criminal act involving fraud resulting to financial loss to the company,” he said
The bill recommends a maximum fine of N2 million or imprisonment of two years or both as penalty for individual defaulters.
For corporate bodies, Mr Raji said that a fine of maximum of N2 million or imprisonment of two years or both as penalty for each director of the company found to have defaulted.
Contributing to the debate, Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) said casualisation of workers is most common with foreign companies.
He added that they come into Nigeria to do what is not done in any other country in the world.
He said there is need for the Nigerians citizens to be confident based on the power of the law to protect them from being exploited.
He called on his colleagues to support the bill, saying that they should put it on record that the 9th Assembly made the law that protects the Nigerian worker.
Also, Egho Idahosa (APC, Lagos) stated that though casual workers are used by employers once in a while to address issues, it should not be permanent.
He said that in the case of Nigeria, casualisation is a permanent thing as some top management staff use it to make extra money for themselves.
“This is inhumanity of man to man and this green chamber is the only institution to correct it; if you do not need a worker, do not employ.”
“You cannot keep a worker and keep him for years and at the end of the day, you throw him out, I think it is wicked,” he said.
After passing the bill for a second reading, it was referred to the House Committee on Labour and Productivity for further legislative action.