Termination of employment

Grounds for termination

May an employer dismiss an employee for any reason or must there be ‘cause’? How is cause defined under the applicable statute or regulation?

Generally, an employer has the right to terminate the employment of an employee. However, by virtue of a recent decision of the National Industrial Court in Nigeria, an employer has a duty to state the reason for the termination.

With respect to dismissal, an employer has the right to dismiss an employee when the conduct of the employee is of a serious and weighty nature. This would include offences with a criminal element, such as fraud, assault and sexual harassment. Other offences include dereliction of duty and gross insubordination. Where an employer dismisses an employee, the employer is duty bound to justify the dismissal from employment and establish that the requisite investigation procedure was adhered to. Contrary to the earlier position, which provides for an automatic forfeiture of all entitlements due to the employee in the event of dismissal, the current legal position is that all earnings of an employee prior to the dismissal must be paid by the employer to such an employee. The rule that a dismissed employee is not entitled to such earnings is largely no longer practised law.

Notice

Must notice of termination be given prior to dismissal? May an employer provide pay in lieu of notice?

An employer is only bound to provide notice or payment in lieu in the case of termination. However, in the case of a dismissal, notice is usually not given.

In which circumstances may an employer dismiss an employee without notice or payment in lieu of notice?

This would occur in cases of dismissal.

Severance pay

Is there any legislation establishing the right to severance pay upon termination of employment? How is severance pay calculated?

Severance pay is regulated by the terms of the contract of employment and is usually calculated in relation to length of service, age and the final salary of the employee.

Procedure

Are there any procedural requirements for dismissing an employee?

The employee should usually be notified in writing of the reasons for the dismissal and should be provided with a right of response. However, there is no prior approval required for this to occur.

Employee protections

In what circumstances are employees protected from dismissal?

There are generally no circumstances in which employees may not be dismissed.

Mass terminations and collective dismissals

Are there special rules for mass terminations or collective dismissals?

This is generally not provided for under Nigerian law.

Class and collective actions

Are class or collective actions allowed or may employees only assert labour and employment claims on an individual basis?

Class actions are permitted under Nigerian law, based on the commonality of a cause of action by all the employees within the class.

Mandatory retirement age

Does the law in your jurisdiction allow employers to impose a mandatory retirement age? If so, at what age and under what limitations?

Retirement age generally differs depending on the sector of employment. However, it generally ranges from the age of 60 to 65 years.