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Proposed Bill Threatens Jail Term for Employers Delaying Salary Payments

by KINGSLEY OYEMA

A new bill titled “Employees Remuneration Protection Bill, 2023” has been proposed in the House of Representatives, presenting a potential legal consequence for employers, both individual and corporate entities, who delay or fail to pay their employees’ salaries. The bill, sponsored by Wale Hammed, a representative of the Agege federal constituency in Lagos State, has passed the first reading.

According to reports from TheSun, Section 7(1) of the proposed bill declares it unlawful for any employer to refuse or neglect the payment of employees’ remuneration as specified in the Act. Section 8(1) further outlines that if an employee’s remuneration remains unpaid after the specified period, the employee can serve a written demand for payment to the employer. If, after five working days, the employee is still unpaid, they have the right to seek redress in court through a motion on notice.

The bill, if enacted, carries severe penalties for non-compliance. Individual employers found guilty of not paying their workers’ salaries may face a jail term ranging from three to six months, without the option of a fine.

In the case of corporate bodies failing to adhere to court orders for salary payments, the proposed legislation prescribes a fine of N10,000 for each day of default. Furthermore, the corporate entity may face temporary closure, being sealed off for a period not exceeding three months if the default persists for over two months.

The bill reflects a legislative effort to address the issue of delayed or non-payment of salaries, providing a legal framework to protect employees and ensure timely remuneration. As the proposal progresses through legislative stages, it raises questions about the balance between protecting workers’ rights and imposing penalties on employers.

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