Nigeria’s House of Representatives Introduces Bill to Criminalize Salary Non-Payment by Employers

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The Naija247news has reported that the House of Representatives in Nigeria has put forth a bill aimed at criminalizing the non-payment or failure to pay salaries by employers and corporate bodies nationwide. The bill, titled “The Employees Remuneration Protection Bill, 2023,” has successfully passed its initial reading and, if enacted, would empower employees to demand payment by submitting a written claim to their employers.

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According to Section 7(1) of the proposed bill, it would be deemed unlawful for any employer to refuse or neglect to pay the remuneration of their employees as specified by the act. Section 8(1) further outlines that if an employee’s compensation remains unpaid beyond the stipulated period allowed by the legislation, the employee can submit a written demand to their employer to assert their claim.

Should an employer fail to remit payment within five business days following the service of a demand under Section 9, the employee would be entitled to seek redress by petitioning the court through a filed motion on notice, as per the bill. The bill specifies that employers found guilty of non-payment could face imprisonment ranging from three to six months without the possibility of a fine.

Additionally, corporate entities failing to comply with a court order related to employee remuneration may face a daily fine of N10,000 or potential closure for a period not exceeding three months. This penalty applies if the default extends beyond two months. The bill also imposes a N10,000 penalty on any officer or agent who knowingly permits noncompliance until the directive is adhered to.

The proposed legislation obligates employers to provide written terms of employment to returning employees within 14 working days if the terms extend beyond one month. Employment contracts must comprehensively outline terms, conditions, remuneration, payment methods, employment character, and termination procedures for both parties.

Addressing concerns of potential employer retaliation, Section 27 of the bill stipulates that an employee’s petition to the court for remuneration shall not be grounds for disciplinary action, inquiry, suspension, or termination by the employer. Meanwhile, Section 28 emphasizes that, in the event of an employer’s bankruptcy, priority shall be given to settling all outstanding remuneration owed to employees.

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