THE NIGERIAN LEGISLATIONS VIS-A-VIS DISCRIMINATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN EMPLOYMENT

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The Story:

Before now, Nigerian laws have been bereft and lacking of specific legislation towards  employment and persons with disabilities. The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, contains a general prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of: ethnic group; place of origin; community; sex; religion; health status; political opinion; and circumstances of birth.
The Nigerian labour law also looks generally into the equal rights, minimum wage working conditions, termination clauses, and many other rules set by the government of Nigeria to ‘every Nigerian’. The rights of workers according to the Nigerian Labour Law 2004 cuts across:
  1. Wages
  2. Leave
  3. Pension
  4. National Housing Funds
  5. Transportation; and
  6. Termination.

 
(Both legislation presumed to have protected persons living with disabilities)

But apart from these general legislation, there was no specific law targeted to protect persons with disabilities at workplace in Nigeria.

Not until 2010, did Lagos State Government set the sail and enacted a legislation targeted specifically at persons living with disabilities in employment.

The Lagos State Special Peoples Law 2010 prohibits discrimination on the basis of an employee’s disability. The law requires employers which employ up to 100 persons to:

1) reserve a minimum of 1% of their workforce for qualified persons living with disability;

2) reserve parking spaces for employees with disabilities in their parking lots; and

3) assign special seats to persons with disabilities in employers’ vehicles, vessels, trains or aircrafts.

In 2018, The Federal Government became persuaded to enact a specific legislation targeted at person living with disabilities in employment, and finally followed the steps of Lagos State. The Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 was signed into law on January 23, 2018, The law brought a major relief to  campaigners, who accused the Nigerian government of not doing enough to protect citizens with disabilities, as nothing was specifically mentioned about these people in the labour act.
The Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 provides the following;

1. The Act prohibits all forms of discrimination against persons with disability on grounds of his disability by any person or institution. If an individual is found violating this law, he/she will pay a fine of N100, 000, a term of six months imprisonment or both. The law imposes a fine of one million naira on corporate bodies.

2. The Act states that the Federal Ministry of Information shall make provisions of awareness regarding the rights, dignity, capabilities of persons with disabilities.

3. Discrimination against such persons is prohibited in public transportation facilities and service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons howsoever challenged. This applies to seaports, railways and airport facilities.

4. The rights and privileges of persons with disability include education, health care, priority in accommodation and emergencies.

5. Public organisations are to reserve at least five per cent of employment opportunities for these persons.

6. The Act states that a person with disability has the right to work on an equal basis with others and this includes the right to opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open. Any person who contravenes this commits an offence that is liable on conviction to nominal damages of a minimum of ₦250, 000 payable to the person with disability.Where a company contravenes this, the company commits an offence and is liable to nominal damages of a minimum of ₦500,000 payable to the affected person with disability; and any principal officer of the company involved in the violation is liable to ₦50,000 payable to the person living with disability.

7. All employers of labour in public organisation shall, as much as possible have persons with disabilities constituting at least 5% of their employment.8. In Section 31 of the Act, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities will be established and an Executive Secretary will be appointed as the head of the commission.

The Act gives citizens with disabilities the right to file a lawsuit for damage against any defaulter.
If a worker believes he/she has been discriminated against on any of the above referred grounds, he/she can bring a case a before the National Industrial Court which can award compensation if discrimination is proven.

At Green Quill Solicitors, We advise on a broad range of employment/labour and related issues. We also have remarkable expertise/skills in labour or employment related negotiations.
We advise on a broad range of labour and employment and related matters, including high-level management, workforce
terminations, wages, tax liabilities, employee share schemes, pensions, health & safety compliance and negotiation & review of employment contracts & consultancy arrangements.

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