COVID-19 & EMPLOYMENT ISSUES IN NIGERIA
It is no longer news that Covid-19 has affected things as they were globally. The spread of this virus has been a cause for concern and has attracted fear and panic as most are unsure of how to effectively survive and react in this period. One of the sectors majorly affected by this pandemic is the Labour sector covering the employer-employee relationship.
As with most major cities and countries around the world, the Federal Republic of Nigeria also invoked the lockdown mechanism by restricting movement in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja effective on 30 March 2020, and additional 2 weeks has also been imposed Similar restrictions were imposed in other states of the country by their respective governors. This effort was put in place to curb the spread of the virus in view of our population and limited infrastructure to combat this should there be an outbreak.
The effect of this is that most companies have had to shut down their businesses and resort to working remotely. The hotel, airline, travel tourism, services, restaurants, real estate, consultancy, nail and beauty salons, are some of the companies or businesses that have been majorly impacted by this lockdown and pandemic. Both employees and employers of labour have questions unanswered on how to handle this novel issue, seeing that their businesses, as they know it, have temporarily come to a halt.
Some of these questions and issues are addressed below:
- Can an employment be terminated by an employer based on the force majeure or doctrine of frustration?
It is important to note that the employer- employee relationship is largely governed by a contract of employment. This contract of employment stipulates the terms of the employment. Thus, the principle of contract will apply in this relationship.
The principle of force majeure or what is commonly referred to as ‘act of God’ is a contractual clause that occur out the control of the parties, and alter the parties’ obligations and/or liabilities under a contract when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond their control prevents one or all of them from fulfilling those obligations.