By Henry Umoru

MOVE by the Senate to regulate and formalize the employment of domestic workers, apprenticeships, interns and other Informal sector employees in Nigeria got a boost in the Senate as a bill to that effect scaled second reading.

It is a Bill for An Act to regulate and formalize the employment of domestic workers, apprenticeships, interns and other Informal sector employees in Nigeria and to empower the National Directorate of Employment to issue license and monitor privately owned Employment Agencies whose responsibility will be to enroll employees in their data bank, safeguard and enhance their social security and oversee their recruitment by employers who engaged in legitimate occupation on such terms and conditions as may be agreed by the parties and for other related matters, 2022 (SB. 541).

The bill is sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East.

In his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, Senator Musa said that the bill also seeks to empower the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to issue license and monitor privately owned agencies  just as he said that the operation in the informal sector was usually in small scale with labour intensive production and usually private ownership driven.

According to him, the participation of Nigerian economy by the informal sector showed evidence of violation of employee rights and non implementation of labour regulations.

Senator Musa said, “Informal sector in Nigeria has practice that are not in conformity to the International Labour Organisation(ILO)best practices as ratified in its convention, notwithstanding that Nigerian is signatory to this conventions.

“There are still a lot of deficits in its implementation of these conventions, one of such area of concern relates to decent work deficit, decent work is work with fair and equal treatments , decent remuneration, and fair condition of employment, safety and social protection, opportunities for training and collective bargaining.”

The Senator who noted that the primary role of the bill was to regulate the sector to promote strategic objectives, promotion of rights at work , employment , social protection and social dialogue, said that on the contrary, many jobs in the informal labour market, still experience decent work deficit, adding that employees in the informal sector were often seen as having no right, and are not treated fairly by their employers.

According to him, the bill seeks to correct all the ills against the workers, adding, “This bill empowers the National Director of Employment (NDE)to issue license and monitor the activities of employment agencies throughout the country.

“The NDE shall receive an application from an agency who desires to function as an employment agency and issue license having met the requirements and duly certified to play by the rules.

“The certification include that there is no criminal case against such agency, that it maintains proper books of accounts among other rules.

In his contribution, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, APC- Niger North stressed that  it was also important to ensure that the bill has provision to protect employers as there have been instance where an employee treats the employer unfairly.

In his remarks, President of Senate, Senator  Ahmad Lawan thereafter referred the bill to Committee on Labour and Productivity for further legislative input.

The committee was given four weeks to return back at plenary.

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