Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Getting a job in Nigeria can be quite stressful and when we do find one, it is easy to get swept up by the possibilities of a better life without carefully reading through the work contract we are given. Seeing as most workers in Nigeria are not protected by the Labour act, a lot could go legally wrong and this is why it is important to take work contracts seriously.
We asked Ayomide Adebayo-Oyetoro, a legal practitioner and corporate law expert in Lagos to share five tips employees should look out for when signing a work contract.
Read her insights below:
1. Look Out For Non-compete clauses: “I think this goes without saying. As far as I’m concerned, they are redundant and no organization should use them and I understand that they want to protect their intellectual property. But they are usually a landmine. I had a client whose employer put a non-compete clause that bound my client from working for their competitors and future clients So imagine as you are working for Zikoko, and they do sponsor ads for let’s say, Nestle. Imagine Zikoko telling you you cannot work for Nestle even though they aren’t in the same industry all because they are their clients.”
2. Gross And Net Salary: “I think a lot of people get so excited when they hear their gross salary and then discover their net salary, [which is the final amount left after all compulsory deductions like pension, health insurance, etc have been taken out] isn’t something they can work with. Employees need to learn the difference between the two and it is that they get clarity on that.”
3. Document All Oral Agreements With Prospective Employer: “No he said, she said. You’d be surprised how fast employers renege on their promises. If they say they’d promote you after three months, make sure they write it down.”
4. Let A Lawyer Look Through The Agreement For You: “And not just any lawyer, hire one who understands contracts and knows what to look out for. I know a lot of people skip this part because they are trying to save money but I promise you the amount you’d be charged for contract review and legal advice is small compared to what you’d use if you sign any draconian contract because you were trying to scrimp.”
5. Read The Fine Prints: “I noticed most employees are just concerned with the bottom figure. I know that you want to sign because Nigeria is hard and this is a great opportunity blah blah blah but I’d advise that you Carefully consider the rights you are about to sign away and see if they are worth it. There are employers for example who don’t want you doing side gigs and rightfully so. There are some who want to bring the project to them in exchange for a cut. Different employers have different policies. Just make sure you understand what you have to give up for the job.”