SOURCES OF LABOR LAW
The basis of this subject is the contractual relationship between the employer and the employee. But there are certain features, just like an insurance contract, which set this type of contract apart from the general law of contract. The contract of employment is supreme.
Sources of Labor Law
1. Formal Source:
a. The Constitution:
S. 17(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) enjoins the state to direct its policies to ensure that all citizens have a means of livelihood plus adequate and suitable employment. Also, a safe environment, health facilities, equal work and equal pay should also be provided. In A-G., Federation v A-G., Ondo, the court held chapter II to be justiciable.
S. 34(2) provides against discrimination and forced labour though there are exceptions.
S. 40 provides for freedom of association. Thus, any clause in the contract of employment preventing the employee from joining associations is simply unconstitutional.
s. 42 provides against discrimination.
Ultimately, s. 254(c), Third Alteration Act to the 1999 Constitution provides against unfair labour practices.
Labour matters are exclusively within the ambit of the Federal Government.
The Employees Legislation Act 2010, Trade Union Act, National Industrial Court Act (2006), Labour Act etc are all relevant in this regard.
It is important to note that despite the fact that labour matters are under the exclusive list of the constitution, state governments are not totally barred from enacting legislations on labour matters but they can’t legislate on matters which have already been covered by the Federal Government. An example is Lagos State Special People’s Law 2011.
c. Judicial decisions:
The Nigerian courts have made several pronouncements on matters pertaining to labour.
2. Voluntary source:
a. Collective Agreement:
This is an oral or written contract entered into between an employer or group of employers and a union that is negotiating on behalf of all of the employees that the union represents.
Generally, collective agreements are not enforceable by the courts except: i. where the Minister of Labour has accepted it and made it an order ii. where it has been incorporated into the contract of employment iii. Where it has been submitted to NIC and the court has made an order to that effect.
b. Rules of Work (includes work-books, hand-books, notices and documents which are handed by the employer to the employee and signed by both parties.
c. Trade Usage/ Custom and Practices:This has to do with the regular practice in a particular industry and may be unwritten.