Nigeria is an attractive country for companies looking to hire remote talent. Besides its highly skilled and educated population, the country features infrastructure that can support remote work. The Nigerian government has also done a lot to encourage companies to hire in the country, from supporting home-grown fintech companies to making the country an attractive foreign investment destination.
If you have plans to hire in Nigeria, it's essential that you familiarize yourself with its employment laws. This precaution ensures that you're both protecting employees' interests and complying with the law.
Fortunately for you, it can be easy to navigate the legal aspect of hiring in Nigeria with an EOR service provider like Skuad by your side. Start using our unified platform today for an easy time onboarding employees, managing payroll and providing employee benefits.
This article discusses the leave policy in Nigeria. Keep reading to learn more.
Working hours in Nigeria
Working hours are determined by an industrial wages board, a collective bargaining process, or an employment contract under Nigeria's Labor Act. However, the onus of setting typical working hours is on the company.
Legally, overtime in Nigeria is defined as any time employees spend working beyond the standard working hours. Employees that work overtime either receive monetary compensation or time off.
Different roles in a company will attract differing overtime wages, but all overtime is paid at the employee’s normal hourly wage. While Nigerian law doesn't set a cap on the allowed overtime hours, you still need to adhere to the statutory rest and leave requirements.
Rest intervals in Nigeria
For every six hours an employee works, they are entitled to a one-hour break or more. During this break, employees are allowed to be off-premises.
Since some employees perform strenuous work, one hour of rest might not suffice. Such employees are legally entitled to receive multiple rest intervals that they can utilize at different points of the workday.
For every 7-day work period, employees are legally entitled to a break of 24 hours at the minimum. Although employers can require employees to work during a rest day, they are required to replace the missed rest day with time off within the first 14 days after the delayed rest day. It's also possible for the employer to compensate the employee through overtime pay.
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Public holidays in Nigeria
Nigerians celebrate nine recognized public holidays each year:
- New Year's Day – 1st January
- Good Friday – the Friday before Easter
- Easter Monday – the date varies with the lunar cycle.
- Worker's Day – 1st May
- National Day – 1st October
- Christmas Day – 25th December
- Eid al-Fitr – date is determined by the government
- Eid al-Adha – date is determined by the government
- Mawlid – date is determined by the government
The ruling Nigerian government can change the dates of the holidays above, switching them with a new date of their choosing.
However, employees can always celebrate the public holiday on the original date if the government declares a different public holiday. For instance, the government typically moves Eid celebrations to different dates within the year, but employees are allowed to meet up with friends and family for the celebrations on the actual dates.
The rules for Nigerian holidays that fall on the weekend are complex, but you can use this guide to understand them better:
- When two public holidays occur on Friday and Saturday, Friday is the only day that's considered a public holiday. The holiday that falls on Saturday won't be moved to any other day.
- When a public holiday occurs on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday will only be celebrated on the day the holiday falls. No new day is designated as a public holiday in place of Saturday.
- When two public holidays occur on Saturday and Sunday, they'll be celebrated on both Saturday and Sunday. No other day will be turned into a public holiday in place of the two days.
- When two public holidays occur on Sunday and Monday, the holiday that falls on Monday is to be celebrated. No other day will be chosen to celebrate the holiday that fell on Sunday.
Christmas traditions in Nigeria
Christmas is mainly celebrated by people in the central and southern parts of Nigeria. The northern region is populated by the Hausa, who are a Muslim ethnic group.
Nigerian Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve, similar to how it's celebrated all around the world. Most Nigerians will move from the city into their villages to celebrate the festivities with their friends and families.
During this time, they'll attend church service and enjoy meals with their loved ones. Offering employees a Christmas break at least a day before Christmas Eve will ensure that they're comfortable enough to travel and unwind.
Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr
Similar to other Muslims around the world, Nigerian Muslims mark the end of Ramadan with two Eid celebrations. However, both celebrations have different meanings from each other.
Eid al-Fitr, also known as "little Eid," is celebrated through family gatherings and feasts. Some Muslims choose to celebrate it by giving donations to charity.
During Eid al-Adha or "big Eid," people travel back home to visit their ancestors. In fact, Eid al-Adha translates to "it's time to go back home." This holiday typically lasts for three days. It also involves making animal sacrifices to Allah, which is known as Qurbani.
Keep employees happy by allocating enough time for them to enjoy both holidays with family and friends.
Types of leave in Nigeria
Nigerian workers enjoy multiple types of leave under the law, including:
Paid annual leave in Nigeria
Nigerian workers are entitled to an annual leave of six days each year. This leave is increased to 12 working days for the younger workers who are under 16 years old, including apprentices. For workers to start receiving annual leave, they need to have worked for an employer for at least 12 months.
While annual leave is meant to be taken within the year it is earned, the employer and employee can mutually defer it to a later date. However, employees need to take their earned or deferred leave within 24 months of earning it.
Under Nigerian law, it is unlawful for employers to pay an employee their basic wage in exchange for unused annual leave. The only exception is during the termination of the worker's contract.
Workers are legally entitled to their basic salary during their annual leave. This compensation is exclusive of allowances or overtime pay.
Termination and annual leave
In case an employee's contract is terminated, you should compensate the employee for any accrued annual leave for the period the employee has worked under you. Workers who have worked for more than six months and less than 12 months are legally entitled to compensation worth the minimum annual leave if they're terminated.
Maternity leave in Nigeria
Nigerian law allocates 12 weeks of maternity leave to its female workforce, which is spread among the pre- and post-maternity periods. Employees can take six weeks off before and after childbirth.
For employees to begin their pre-childbirth maternity leave, they're required to submit a medical certificate from a doctor to you as their employer. This certificate is meant to confirm that the employee will be facing confinement for the period that they're requesting leave.
Employees are also allowed to extend their maternity leave in situations where they develop an illness during their maternity leave. They're obligated to submit documentation from registered medical professionals to confirm their condition.
During maternity leave, employees are legally entitled to 50% of their regular income as long as they've had a working relationship with you for at least six months.
Any employees you've insured will also be entitled to maternity care as long as they've worked under you for at least six months. They'll need to provide a medical certificate to prove their specific medical condition for the maternity care to take effect. The National Health Insurance Scheme covers maternity care for up to four live births.
Sick leave in Nigeria
Nigerian workers are entitled to 12 days of paid sick leave. The illness has to be certified by a registered medical practitioner. Employees are paid their basic wages throughout the period of the sick leave, exclusive of overtime pay or other allowances.
As an employer, you can request your employee to get examined by a qualified medical practitioner that you'll nominate.
Employees typically enjoy a number of health benefits when insured by their employers, including coverage for:
- Specialist consultation
- Hospitalization for a maximum of 15 days
- Preventative care
- Maternity care for up to four live births
- Ophthalmological services
- Pain relief and preventative dental care
An employee's employment remains secure for the 12 days of sick leave. The contract remains intact. However, an employee must perform their part of the contract during the sick leave, except for any duties that their illness bars them from performing.
Keep employees happy by complying with Nigeria’s labor laws
Compliance with Nigerian leave laws, from working hours, to leave policies, will help improve employee morale. It also protects you from any legal issues. Best of all, compliance will help you create an employer brand that Nigerian job seekers are attracted to.
Looking for a partner to help you employ talent successfully and compliantly in Nigeria? Get started with Skuad today. We'll help you navigate Nigerian labor laws and optimize your HR duties for an easier time managing your Nigerian workforce.