Staff abuse is rampant in Nigeria. Casual employees are kept for over the minimum six month-time frame allowed by law. There is also the case of poor remuneration by organisations. Most of these are human resource issues and some of your members are culprits.
You raised two issues; one is casualisation. Two, remuneration or compensation. Maybe the third is the issue of abuse.
Casualisation is in both private and public sectors. In the private sector and specific subsectors like the oil and gas, they have a structure of limited core work force that is on payroll. They recruit Nigerians and expatriates on long term duration until they retire because the nature of the business allows it to expand and contract because of the global nature of demand for oil and gas. But they also make use of third party staff that work in service companies and are not on their pay roll. So you have a situation where some people work for a particular oil company for a long term but they are not pensionable under the oil company. They only have attractive terminal benefits to encourage people to do that kind of work which is short term.
What the institute does is to advise employers of labour on how best to do that. For instance, if you have a sizeable number of your workers as casuals, have you given them the best compensation over and above those on pensionable pay? You should pay them 150 percent or even 200 percent above those on permanent status because the risk of losing job is high on the casuals.
Second, if you want to recruit long term staff, you should look at the casuals and give them appointments. Having a casual workforce may not be bad because, that way you also keep the working population continuously learning and acquiring experience. So we also tell employers to provide training to casual workers which will benefit the economy because where someone decides to leave a casual job, he or she should benefit from the training which the employer provided.
The employer should also allow the casual worker have a voice through unionisation. They were not allowed but it is getting better now.
The second point is compensation. Since casuals’ remuneration cannot be the same with those on long term appointment, there are four levers you can pull. First, are you paying them enough to attract and keep them? The second is the career opportunity. A casuals’ career progression is limited in an organisation. A casual cannot grow to become an MD for instance. Employers should then give them more training so they can be employable elsewhere.
The third thing to look at is the work place conditions. Because you are a casual doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the right working tools and work environment.
So in our institute, when we engage our stakeholders through our fora, we pass these messages across so that productivity can be enhanced on daily bases.
Beyond all this, the law says after six months, you terminate the casuals’ appointment or confirm it. Are personnel managers not bound by this?
They are. What they do is that after six months, they terminate the contract and renew it.
But some organisations keep casuals for more than two years?
That is something that should be frowned at because if the law says six months, it should be six months. But what the so called clever employers do is, they terminate the contract after every six months so they don’t fall short of the law and renew it.
Don’t you think that amounts to abuse?
It does in the context that it doesn’t comply with the law. But it is better to have people engaged casually for 12 months or seven months than not being employed at all. Take the public sector for instance, if government decides to recruit people say, for several roads construction, that would be labour intensive and a lot of people that would be employed will not be on a permanent basis until the project is finished and sometimes the project will not finish in six months. It is better to keep them as casuals. But in more defined places like the manufacturing where the company is enduring, why would you keep casuals for two years?
Quacks still pervade human resource practice in Nigeria, what are you doing to control that?
The use of quacks would be tackled by the institute because when you talk of corruption it’s not just financial. So if you have no business managing people because you have not been trained, then you shouldn’t be involved. Our campaign is to get people attracted to be members of the institute and we tell them what it takes to practice well.
The second stage is compliance and sanctions. We will do an audit of the organisations to get names of people who parade themselves as human resource managers or directors etc, to ascertain those who are not members of the institute and are not trained to be there. And if our governing council approves, we will publish their names and organisations in selected national dailies as not qualified to do what they are doing.
Several people are now parading themselves as job consultants, apparently cashing in on the huge unemployment situation and ripping off unsuspecting job seekers, doesn’t that bother the institute?
In the coming months, we would be taking a census of the magnitude of the problem. How many people are doing job consultancy in the area of human resource practice? We intend to invite quite a number of them in a stakeholders meeting.