By Amaka Ezeno, MCIArb
It is worthy to note that it is adjudged to be contrary to international labour standard and international best practice and, therefore, unfair for an employer to terminate the employment of its/his/her employee without any reason or justifiable reason that is connected with the performance of the employee’s work as was held in the case of EBERE ONYEKACHI ALOYSIUS V DIAMOND BANK PLC. (2015) 58 N.L.L.R 92 which clearly destroyed the traditional common law principle of law that an employer can terminate an employee for a bad reason or no reason at all.
In that case, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria aptly observed inter alia:
“Flowing from the above, I find that it is now contrary to international labour standard and international best practice and, therefore, unfair for an employer to terminate the employment of its employee without any reason or justifiable reason that is connected with the performance of the employee’s work.
I further hold that the reason given by the Defendant for determining the Claimant’s employment in the instant case, which is ‘service was no longer required’ is not a valid one connected with the capacity or conduct of the claimant’s duties in the Defendant Bank. In addition, I hold that it is no longer conventional in this twenty-first-century labour law practice and industrial relations for an employer to terminate the employment of its employee without any reason even in private employment.
“However, the Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 (No. 158) and the Recommendation No. 166 regulates termination of employment at the initiative of the employer. Article 4 of this Convention requires that the employment of an employee shall not be terminated unless there is a valid reason for such termination connected with his capacity or conduct or based on the operational requirements of the undertaking, establishment or service.
The Committee of Experts has frequently recalled in its comments that; the need to base termination of employment on a valid reason is the cornerstone of the Convention’s provisions. This is the global position on employment relationship now. It is the current International Labour Standard and International Best Practice.
Although this convention is not ratified by Nigeria; but since March 4, 2011 when the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Third Alteration) Act, 2010 came into effect, this Court has the power under the Constitution to apply International Best Practice and International Labour Standards to matters like this by virtue of section 254C (1) (f) and (h) of the Constitution as amended, this Court can now move away from the harsh and rigid Common Law posture of allowing an employer to terminate its employee for bad or no reason at all”
Let the employers therefore beware of and avoid unnecessary stress and financial loss that come with litigation by adhering to the dictates of the aforesaid judgement which was delivered seven years ago.
Amaka Ezeno, MCIArb