FORM OF CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT
Generally, the law doesn’t require the contract to be in any specific form. It can be oral, written, partly oral and partly written, or by deed. It may even be inferred or implied from the conduct of the parties. However, certain contracts are required to be in writing e.g. contract of apprenticeship (s. 49, Labour Act) and also Contract for the employment of Seamen under the Merchant Shipping Act.
We must note the provision of s. 7, Labour Act which is to the effect that not later than three months after the beginning of a worker’s period of employment, the employer is to give the worker a written statement relating to things like the name of the employer, the name and address of the worker, the nature of the employment, the expiry of the contract, the period of notice required to terminate the contract with due regard to s. 11 of the Act, rates of wages including the method of calculation and the terms and conditions of the contract. S. 7(2) is to the effect that where there is a change in the written statement, the employer is bound to notify him of such change. In SYSTEMS FLOORS v DANIEL, the court noted that a statement given under s. 7 of the Labour Act provides very strong prima facie evidence of what were the terms of the contract between the parties, but does not constitute a written contract between the parties. Nor are the statements of the terms finally conclusive.
One thing seems clear from s. 7: an employer is under compulsion to issue the employee/worker with a letter of employment embodying the terms and conditions of his employment. Where he contravenes this provision, he is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 800 naira or for a second offence, to a fine not exceeding 1,500 naira. See s. 20, Labour Act. See also Mobil Producing v Udo.
As regards capacity to enter a contract of employment, under common law, the age of majority is 21 while the Labour Act stipulates 18 years. The capacity of a minor to work depends on the nature of the employment.