The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, passed for second reading, a bill seeking to prohibit late and non-payment of workers and pensioners by employers. When it becomes law, employees will be entitled to interests on unpaid wages.

Underpayment of workers and pensioners would also be prohibited by the proposed law. This is being proposed in a legislation titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Late Payment, Non-Payment and Underpayment of Workers’ Wages, Pension and Other Emolument in Nigeria, and Prescribes Penalties for Violations.’

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had made the proposal in the ‘Employees/Workman (Unpaid Wages Prohibition) Bill 2016’ at the last National Assembly. The legislation was recalled for reconsideration by the 9th Assembly. The House passed the first reading in July 2019.

Gbajabiamila, in the explanatory note, said, “This bill seeks to provide for the prohibition of late payment, non-payment and under payment of workers’ wages in Nigeria and prescribes penalties for violations and for other matters connected thereto.”

The proposed law stipulates that where the breach is in respect of other monetary benefits apart from monthly wage and monthly pension, the penalty shall be 30 per cent of such monetary benefits for the period. The Speaker further proposed a duration/penalty schedule for unpaid wage or pension, where the employer or employee  breached the law for more than 60 days.

The bill partly reads, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any Act or in any other enactment or law, the provision of this Act shall apply to all matters pertaining to payment of wages, pension, benefits and other emoluments by employers to workers in Nigerian. Every employer of labour in Nigeria, whether private or public; and whether it is employing any worker on permanent or contract basis, must ensure that all payment of wages, salaries, pension and all benefits to workers are paid promptly without any delay weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly as may be agreed by parties in the contract of employment of the individual employee.

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