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The regulations that govern work are extremely important in any modern culture. This is because workers may make enormous contributions to national growth and development, as well as the general well-being of the nation’s citizens. Labour legislation plays a critical role in mobilising the labour force for national progress.

When there is a contractual relationship between these two parties, the binding contract automatically brings about rights and duties that must be dealt with. Their relative rights and responsibilities must be thoroughly examined in contractual terms. In many civilised countries, including Nigeria, a structured favour to employers over and above the employees’ responsibilities evolved from historical precedents.

While it is undeniable that employers have the right to dismiss in addition to other rights, employees also have rights that they can exercise. However, in most cases, due to the ignorance of many employees, the opportunity to fight such illegal conduct of their employers is lost.

Efforts were made in this study project to identify these difficulties, their causes, and answers in the final chapter for a need to modify the entire setup as it affects labour law and practise in Nigeria.



1.1 Definition and Scope of Employment Contract

The employment contract is a type of contract and is thus regulated by general rules of contract law, consensusad item. A contract of employment, being a type of simple contract, must also satisfy the requirements of a valid contract. It is also affected by the vitiating variables.

The degree of power that one party has over the other side is what distinguishes an employment contract from a simple contract, which chitty describes as a promise or collection of promises that the law will enforce1.

A contract of employment also refers to a connection between two or more people for the provision of services, in which one person is employed by the other. A contract, on the other hand, refers to a relationship that exists between two or more people in any transaction.

In contrast to a contract with an independent contractor, traditional definitions of what constitutes an employment contract lay the greatest weight on the employer’s ability to control the employee’s work.In Chadwick v.

Pioneer Private Telephone Ltd, the contract of employment was defined as follows: “contract of services implies an obligation to serve and some degree of master control”3.

It should be highlighted, however, that there is no comprehensive definition, only competing criteria. A contract of employment is a contract entered into by two parties in which one party devotes himself to the service of the other in exchange for some consideration, most commonly salary and wages. However, an attempt has been made in the field of labor[1]Legislation in Nigeria4 to define a contract of employment as;

”Any arrangement, whether oral or written, express or implied, wherein one person agrees to employ another as a worker and that other person agrees to labour for the employer.”

It is a service contract rather than a contract for service; the difference is that in a service contract, a man (employee) places his labour at the disposal of another, resulting in a relationship between the two parties. A contract for services, on the other hand,

is a circumstance in which a guy who runs his own business agrees to do labour or carry out a work or duties for the person of another. Historically, the employment contract was known as and referred to as a “master and servant” relationship.

Mr. Y’s housekeeper, gatekeeper, driver, or chauffeur is an employee, whereas a laundry man or t-axi driver is an independent contractor5.

Thus, in order to distinguish a contract of employment from a contract of service, the parties involved must exercise their statutory rights under it. That is, it must be demonstrated that they have an employer-employee or master-servant relationship.

Thus, both parties must agree on terms because this will be the single concept guiding their actions and conducts during the duration of the employment. As the court determined in SMITH v. GENERAL MOTOR CAB. CO6, where the allegation for the existence of such a relationship between the parties fails.

As previously stated, a service contract contains two distinct legal categories of people: an Employer, master, hirer, or recruiter, and an Employee. WHAT IS AN EMPLOYEE? Although this has no legal significance;

”An employer is any person who has entered into an employment contract to hire another person as a worker for himself or for the services of another person, and includes that first stated person’s agents, manager, or factor, as well as the personal representatives of a deceased employer.”7

An employer is also described as ”the entrepreneur who engages a worker in a dependent labour relationship and has control over that worker to the extent that such worker could be referred to as an employee”.

An employer is also defined as ”any person who employs or engages the labour or service of another person under contract of service”.An individual, a partner, a corporation, or even a state (the Government) could be the employer.8



Any person who has entered into or works under a contract with an employer, whether it is for manual labour or clerical work, express or implied, oral or written, and whether it is a contract of service or a contract personally to execute any work or labour,

but does not include………….. persons exercising administrative, executive, technical, or professional functions as a public officer or otherwise.”9

The key question in determining whether an employer or a servant is “was his contract a contract of service within the meaning that an ordinary person would give to the term?” In CASSIDY v. MINISTER OF HEALTH10Bomerell,l.jheld that if the answer is YES, the person will be considered an employee.

The plaintiff in ADEYEMO v. OYO STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISION11 was found to be a servant or employee. Authors have also used the terms employee and servant interchangeably, and many Nigerian statutes have defined who a servant is by using terms such as workers, employee, or workman.


1.2 Formation of an Employment Contract

The existence of a binding relationship between an employer and an employee arises from a contract, as the essential elements for the formation of a contract of employment or service between an employer and an employee on which their rights and obligations depend are generally the same as conditions in ordinary or simple contact.

This legal connection thus requires the parties’ voluntary assent to its formation, expressed through the hiring procedure, under the constraints imposed only by normal contract law or legislative regulation. Except in some circumstances where remuneration is adjustable, based on the professional qualifications required by the employer,

the terms are frequently not negotiable by the individual employee. As a result, the master and servant’s rights and duties are largely the result of free bargaining between the parties, as they are free to determine the terms and conditions of service.

Aside from the element of voluntariness, there is also the presumption of equality between the parties, although this presumption of equality between the parties has been labelled as a ”Fiction” by Professor Odumosu.

12 AdeogunA.A also commented on the presumption of equality and voluntariness of bargaining power between master and servant, noting that “… the so-called bargaining power of the individual worker is of little importance in practise……”13

Contract provides the basic conceptual framework for the individual employment connection, and as such, the employment relationship generated must satisfy all of the key elements of a valid contract. To give the agreement legal validity,

there must be an offer, acceptance, required capacity of the parties, consideration, and intention, and no factor may vitiate the contract. In terms of capacity, the parties must have the necessary legal capacity to enter into the employment relationship. In general, the capacity of infants, women, and the mentally ill is impaired in certain respects.



The provisions of the employment contract can be obtained from the individual contract, collective agreements, and legislation.Aside from that, the parameters of a contract are heavily influenced by the parties’ intentions, as they are free to agree on the contents or terms of their work relationship.

The terms of contract refer to the direct or inferred statements by which the employer and employee want to guide their employment relationship. The word refers to the rights and duties as well as the obligations and liabilities that arise from the relationship.

As previously indicated, there are express and implied terms. The stated terms include: working hours, travel to work, wages, and wage control. Employers’ implied obligations include: paying wages,

16To treat the employee with dignity; to provide work for the employee; to ensure the employee’s safety at work; to provide references; and to indenify the employee.17.

The employee has the following implied duties: the duty of compliance; the obligation to exercise skills and reasonable care; and the duty to give honest and faithful service. Avoid hidden profit and personal gain, as well as competitiveness.Avoid leaking confidential information.20

The contractual conditions may be oral or written, but significant aspects of an employment contract should be made in writing and the terms adequately documented as a matter of practise and prudence.[6]

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