Amaka started working as an analyst in a commodities brokerage located in Victoria Island. Shortly before her employment, the Human Resources manager had resigned due to a dispute with the senior management. Due to this state of affairs, Amaka was not issued with an employment letter by the company and this state of affairs continued unremedied for the next year as the company searched for another Human Resources manager.
Amaka being a hard worker, was not bothered by the non-issuance of an employment letter, believing that she would prove her worth to the company over time. Moreover, she had been jobless for 2 years after the completion of her national youth service, and she was not going to let a simple matter as the non issuance of an employment letter prevent her from enjoying the fruits of such a juicy job.
Fast forward, and Amaka had worked punishing hours for 3 years under a continuously tense environment worsened by her nasty boss who had been pursuing a vendetta against her for not accepting his lascivious overtures. He had promised to ruin her career and make life difficult for her whilst she remained under his employment. Despite consistently delivering stellar work, she was repeatedly given low grades during performance appraisals and consequently denied promotions. Amaka felt like a slave and was treated almost like one.
A few months later, Amaka received an offer from another investment bank, with considerably better terms of service and benefits. She promptly turned in her 2 weeks notice of resignation and patiently waited for her salary at the end of the month. On the 30th day of the month, she received a letter from the Managing Director informing her that her resignation had been rejected on the grounds that it was company policy that employees were to give 1 (One) clear month’s notice or forfeit their monthly salary in lieu of notice. The letter was delivered by her boss with a malicious smirk on his toad-like face.
Amaka was incensed!!! This was a travesty, and she was not going to allow it. She promptly sought out legal advice on her options against the company.
The position of the law is that an employee has the right to resign with immediate effect, and the rejection of his resignation is tantamount to forced labour, and also against the time-honoured labour law principle that an employer cannot force himself on an unwilling employee. Employees are considered to have given notice of their intention to resign if they unambiguously inform their employers that they will terminate the contract on a certain date.
Furthermore, the Labour Act states that an employer must give an employee a written contract within 3 months of the commencement of the employment. The Labour Act also makes it unlawful for an employer to deduct the salary of employee by way of penalty, except in situations where the employer suffers a loss as a result of the misconduct of the employee.
From the facts there was a failure of Amaka’s employers to provide her with an employment agreement stipulating the terms of her employment, including the process for terminating the employment relationship. The necessary conclusion is that the attempt by the company to withhold her salary on the grounds of non-adherence to company policy falls flat on the failure of the company to comply with the provisions of the Labour Act. The absence of an express requirement for 1 month notice implies that the employment relationship could be terminated at will. Consequently Amaka’s resignation is valid at law, and she can enforce her right to the withheld salary against the company by a suit at the National industrial Court.