Unfair dismissal in Nigeria: Imperative for a departure from the common law
One burning issue in the modern day labour and employment relations in Nigeria is the security of tenure of employment. The law had developed from the common law position to the position under the statutes where little protection is afforded to employees in employments regulated by statutes down to the present day world of labour wherein security of tenure of employment acquired international outlook. At common law, termination of employment or dismissal of an employee brings the contract of employment in question to an end. Under employments regulated by statutes or regulations made pursuant to powers granted by a statute, termination is not a fait accompli as once it is shown that the termination or dismissal was unlawfully carried out without strict compliance with the procedure prescribed by statutes, the purported termination or dismissal will be declared null and void. However, this statutory protection is only available to contracts protected by statutes and not ones governed purely by contract agreement entered into by parties inter se. However, there is now a move away from what security of tenure has been thitherto in some countries to the new international stand on security of tenure of employment. This position can be found in the International Labour Organisation standards on unfair dismissal provided for in the International Labour Organisation Convention which is considered in this work. The researchers undertake the study of the meaning of unfair dismissal, a comparative appraisal of unfair dismissal situations in Nigeria and other jurisdictions. The researchers adopt construction of statutes, case law, journal articles, textbooks and Internet materials as part of their methodology. At the end, the researchers found that virtually every dismissal and termination situations in Nigeria amounts to unfair dismissal when tested against ILO standards on unfair dismissal. The researchers then recommend that there is need to fill the glaring gap in the Nigerian law on termination of employment to bring it in line with the International Labour Organization’s standards.
Key words: Unfair Dismissal, Common Law, Employment, Labour, Nigeria