A new bill before the House of Representatives has proposed stiff penalties for employers of labour in both the public and private sectors who fail to pay or delay the payment of workers’ salaries.
The bill passed second reading on Tuesday,
getting the support of the majority of
lawmakers at a session presided over by the
Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal.
It also proposes that underpayment of workers’ wages; pension and emolument will attract sanctions.
According to the sponsor of the bill and House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, the penalties will include the loss of 10 to 20 percent of the value of the delayed salary.
He explained that after a salary delay of one
week, the employer would begin to lose
percentages of the salary, which would be
added to the employee’s pay.
Gbajabiamila said, “Late payment or no
payment of salary encourages corruption.
People are forced to seek unlawful means to
meet their financial and family obligations. It is our responsibility as legislators to protect the welfare of the citizenry. There is no point
saying you have a job, yet no pay.
“This bill prescribes a period, beginning from
seven days; the employer will pay a percentage in addition to the salary. From 10 per cent, it can rise to 20 per cent, and so on.”
Another member, Mr. Jerry Manwe, blamed
the problem of non-payment of salaries on
He said a practice common in some
government agencies was to lodge workers’
salaries in fixed deposit accounts to yield
interests for “some greedy officials, who keep telling the suffering workers that there is no money.”
Also backing the bill, Mr. Godfrey Gaiya,
observed that employment was a contract
between the employer and the employee.
“A labourer deserves his wage,” he said.
An attempt by the House Deputy Majority
Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, to oppose the bill,
Ogor claimed that criminalising salary delays
or non-payment of salaries could lead to “more problems that the bill intends to solve.”
He argued that some delays could be caused
by “cash-flow challenges and not that the
employer does not want to pay.”
But, his position on the bill was defeated by a majority voice vote endorsing it.