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Can Workers Be Paid Salaries With Relief Materials And PPEs

Can Workers Be Paid Salaries With Relief Materials And PPEs

Can Workers Be Paid Salaries With Relief Materials And PPEs? Daily Law Tips (Tip 550) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, governments, corporations and individuals have been sending relief materials to support families across the globe. In Nigeria, states are on lockdown with very limited access to resources. However, workers in sectors that produce or provide basic goods and services still work, while observing COVID-19 preventive protocols. Workers in other sectors, work remotely from their homes. So, within the lockdown, some workers are paid salaries. With the prevailing need and demand for relief materials and personal protective equipment (PPE), can employers pay workers with relief materials and PPE, instead of with legal tender (monies)? Are employment agreements that allow salary payment by kind or materials, legal in Nigeria? Must salaries be paid in Naira and not foreign currencies?

In Nigeria, all employments, employers, employees, workers, staff, servants, business owners, employment agreements/contract, whether private or public, government or non-governmental, local or international, are governed by the Labour Act of 1971. It applies even where and when workers have no written agreements (rather oral agreements) or where agreements are not express but implied. It doesn’t matter if employment is for short or long term and pays wages or salary.

All persons working in Nigeria, employees, workers, staff or servants, by whatever title or description, must be paid with only legal tender (money/currency of Nigeria) and not with any other item, material, goods, services, kind or gesture. In Nigeria, the only approved legal tender is Naira and Kobo. It is illegal to pay any person in Nigeria, whether a Nigerian or foreigner, with any foreign currency.

Any contract of employment that pays all or part of a worker’s salary by any means or with anything other than money is illegal, invalid and not enforceable. It is a criminal offence punishable with fine of not more than #800.00 for first time offenders and fine of #1,500.00 for second time (as well as subsequent times) offenders. Obviously, there is need to amend this sanctions to meet the realities of today’s Nigeria and remain deterring punitive measures.

However, the above restriction and sanctions, does not bind or affect a worker that is the parent, spouse or child of the employer, his or her case is different. Also, it does not apply to any person working under an agreement of co-operation and not employment. Note that, an employer can provide food, accommodation and any other allowances that is allowed by law or industry where such is necessary for workers in the industry.


1. Sections 1, 21, 22, 91, and 92 of the Labour Act, 1971.

2. Sections 15, 19, 20(5), 60 and 61 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007,










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