Credits –

As an employee, one of the
prerequisites to having some sort of assurance in a particular organisation is
the Employment Contract. However, in a country such as Nigeria where
unemployment is rife, and hunger is real, many job-seekers do not wish to “rock
the boat” before gaining proper entry into an establishment. It is unlikely for
a newly employed person, who has been job hunting for at least seven years, to
negotiate any aspect of the Employment Contract and it is because of the high
rate of unemployment that many employers choose to take advantage by enforcing
onerous terms on their employees.
An Employment Contract, also known as
Employment Agreement is a binding document which sets out the obligations and
expectations of the parties, purportedly minimising future disputes.

A deeper look into the Labour Sector in
Nigeria will reveal that the applicability of the Labour Act is limited to low
cadre employees. This would mean that employees who cannot be regarded as being
low cadre employees by virtue of the provisions of that legislation can only
see recourse under the terms of their Employment Contract.
I believe that, at all times, one
should fight for ones rights. I’m not advocating the pursuit of unrealistic
goals (please do not go there and quote me whilst asking for a 2015 Range Sport
as the company car for your junior position); however I do believe that where
one is not comfortable with a particular term in their Employment Contract,
then one should raise this fact before signing on the dotted line.
Fundamentally, the employee has the
ball in his court and he is expected to take a closer look at the
various terms, duties and rewards enshrined in the document. Anyone who knows
their self-worth will always negotiate for terms that would be to their
Having said that, some of the vital
issues an employee should look out for when reviewing his Employment Contract
include the following:
Compensation (A.K.A “Salary”,
“Allowance”, “Ego”, “Kudi”, “Owo”, or “Money”)
This is the main clause an employee must look out for. If the pay is not
sufficient consideration, then such an employee might as well remain unemployed
and stress free. When scrutinising one should also consider other benefits and
entitlements, such as bonus, leave allowance, housing and transportation.
I have a friend who didn’t spend up to
a year in her former place of work. She had to quit when she calculated her
expenses and placed it beside her salary – she realised the money left, after
deducting money spent on transport, wasn’t enough to make her live an “okay”
Scope of Employment
Many employees rush into an
organisation at the very chance they get and fail to ask themselves “What
exactly is my role here and is there any other secondary role which is ascribed
to my position?
”. At the end, we find absurdities arising, such as the
receptionist taking up the duty of the messenger or sometimes the role of
A lawyer friend of mine who’s just over
10 months in the profession commented on such instance where lawyers of his
level are ordered to perform duties not relating to their calling, such as
making daily trips to “Iya Eba” or “Ghana High” to pick up every
ones lunch.
Vacation Entitlement
In this jurisdiction, it is not unheard
of for there to be a clause in the Employment Contract baring the employee from
any entitlement to leave whatsoever for the first year of their employment.
Initially, I thought this was only
applicable to entry level employees, but recently I have come to learn that
this clause may be found in any contract an organisation is able to put it
into. Thus one can find themselves moving jobs after five years in the job
market, and suddenly unable to take time off to recuperate.
I have never actually understood this,
as very few immune systems can work non-stop for one entire year without rest;
in most instances, employees will merely call in sick and return a few days
later with a doctor’s note, thus making the “Leave” unmonitored and the
organisation fundamentally losing. As the saying goes “Man no be machine,
body no be fire wood”
. If the organisation doesn’t know this, I’ll advice
that you let them know as soon as you are set to negotiate this clause.
Where such a clause exists, it is worth
negotiating to ensure that you are entitled to full staff entitlements from the
moment the employment is confirm, that is after the conclusion of any
applicable probation period.
It is always advisable to look for the grounds upon which the company can
terminate the Employment Contract.
In the UK, it is a norm for
organisations to have a clear procedure for termination; this is usually in the
form of oral warning, written warning, suspension then termination. Or where
there has been a serious incident, suspension, followed by an investigation
which may then lead to the termination of the Employment Contract. However here
in Nigeria, we do not have any uniform procedure for terminating an employee’s
contract; many organisations simply do not properly cater for termination in
the Employment Contract, thus leaving the employee at the mercy of the “Benevolent
” also known as “The Oga”.
It is for this reason one needs to
ensure termination is properly addressed in the Employment Contract. Where it
is addressed, it is also equally import to ensure that the contract does not
have an omnibus clause inserted in there. These clauses tend to be drafted in a
way that they capture a range of instances and are often used by employers as a
means of ending the Employment Contract abruptly; for example one such clause
could read “or any other instance which in the view of management may be
deemed as a breach of this Employment Contract
Notice Period for Resignation
Please, if you are not employed as
senior management, exactly why should you be mandated to give 3-6 months’
notice of intentions to leave the organisation? In the instance where one has
landed a fantastic role with a fantastic organisation, how many of these
organisations will be willing to wait 3-6 month for you to complete the
required notice period.
In most instances, once a member of
staff resigns, their work load will significantly reduce, with them being
present merely to hand over to the next parson. For this reason, I do not see
why a non-managerial role would need 3-6 months to hand over to their
Other essential terms in an employment
contract include the following
1.     Accident/disability
and death whilst on the job
2.     Restriction of
post-employment trade;
3.     The effective date of
the contract;
4.     If the contract is
for a fixed term, the date when the contract expires;
5.     Hours of work;
6.     Paid sick leave;
7.     Criteria for
promotion; and
8.     Unilateral relocation
to another location.
I walk down the streets these days and I see in every corner written in chalk
or printed on A4 papers and pasted on rough walls, some sort of vacancy or job
opportunity calling for “workers”.
But I cannot help but ponder if the
said organistaion is seeking an individual who will add value to their team, or
a mere “slave” who they can easily manipulate and mistreat.
In most developed countries, workers
have their lives and jobs insured. Unfortunately, this is not the case here in
Nigeria, with some people arguing that ‘it is better to be doing something than
to do nothing at all’.
In the end, it is expected of every new
employee not to rush into a new opportunity that has got no opportunity at all
in its real sense.
By: Ivie  Omoregie