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WHAT IS A TRIANGULAR EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP

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What is a triangular employment relationship? A triangular employment relationship is a situation where the employer arranges for an employee’s placement or assignment with a third party.

— S.J. Adah, JCA. Luck Guard v. Adariku (2022) – CA/A/1061/2020

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NO STATUTORY FLAVOUR; WHERE CONTRACT DETERMINED BY AGREEMENT BETWEEN PARTIES

Fakuade v. O.A.U.T.H.C.M.B. (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt. 291) 47 where Karibi-Whyte JSC stated at page 63: “The character of an appointment and status of the employer in respect thereof is determined by the legal character and the contract of the employee. Hence where the contract of appointment is determinable by the agreement of the parties, simpliciter, there is no question of the contract having a statutory flavour. The fact that the other contracting party is the creation of a statute did not make any difference.”

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NO EMPLOYMENT CAN BE INFERRED WITHOUT A LETTER OF EMPLOYMENT PRODUCED

In the case of Organ and Ors. v. Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd., and Anor (2013) LPELR – 20942 (SC), the Supreme Court emphatically held as follows: “The letter of employment is the bedrock on which any of the appellants can lay claim to being employees of the respondent and without the production of such a document, no employment can be inferred. The Employees’ Handbook issued by 1st Respondent is not a substitute for the letter of employment”.

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EMPLOYMENT REGULATED BY STATUTE

There may be cases where the body employing the servant is under some statutory or other restrictions as to the kind of contract or the grounds on which it can remove or dismiss him. In such contracts, if the servant is removed on grounds other than those specified in the contract or allowed by Statute, his removal will be held to be unjustified or ultra vires, null and void as the case may be:- see McChelland v. Northern Ireland General Health Service Board (1957) 1 W.L.R. 549.

— A. Oputa, JSC. Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) – SC.53/1985

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WORKER AND EMPLOYEE UNDER THE LABOUR ACT

As can be seen, the definition of worker under section 91(1) is restrictive given the persons exempted in terms of paragraphs (a) to (f) of the definition. The point is that section 91(1) defines a worker only for the purposes of the Labour Act; as such, not all employees are workers for purposes of the Labour Act. The category of persons under paragraphs (a) to (f) of the definition of a worker may thus be employees but not workers for purposes of the Labour Act. Section 91(1) of the Labour Act defines a worker by reference to an employer i.e. as one who entered into or works under a contract with an employer. So, who is an employer? The same section 91(1) defines an “employer” to mean “any person who has entered into a contract of employment to employ any other person as a worker either for himself or for the service of any other person, and includes the agent, manager or factor of the first-mentioned person and the personal representatives of a deceased employer”. The common denominator in the definition of a worker and an employer is the contract of employment. A “contract of employment” is thus defined by same section 91(1) to mean “any agreement, whether oral or written, express or implied, whereby one person agrees to employ another as a worker and that other personagrees to serve the employer as a worker”.

— B.B. Kanyip, J. Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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EMPLOYMENT GOVERNED BY STATUTE & THAT NOT GOVERNED BY STATUTE

In the case of BENIN ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY PLC. v. ESEALUKA (2013) LPELR-20159(CA) where the court held that: “There is no doubt that there is a vast difference between an employment with statutory flavor in which case the terms of employment of that staff is governed by the statute creating that organization and any infraction of the terms of employment and discipline as guaranteed by the statute is bound to be declared null and void. That is illegal dismissal, where it occurs. In such situations the employee is restored to the position as if no disciplinary measures had been taken at all. See Dr. Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju & Ors. v. Prof. Shuaib O. Abdul-Raheem & Ors. (2009) 13 NWLR Pt.1157 Pg.83; Bamgboye v. University of Ilorin (1999) 10 NWLR Pt.622 Pg.290. However, where the relationship is not governed by statute and there is infraction of the terms of employment and dismissal by the employer such infraction is merely wrongful and not null and void. The employee can only claim damages for breach of contract and cannot claim arrears of salary and reinstatement. See Eze v. Spring Bank (2011) 12 SC Pt.1 Pg.173; Joseph Ifeta v. SPDC Nig. Ltd. (2006) 8 NWLR Pt.983 Pg.585.” Per OGUNWUMIJU, J.C.A. (Pp.32-33, Paras.B-F).

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CONTRACT OF SERVICE COMES TO AN END WHERE EMPLOYEE ACCEPTS REPUDIATION

The contract of service comes to an end after the unilateral repudiation only if the employee accepts the repudiation expressly or by implication. – See Gunton v. Richmond-upon-Thames London Borough Council (1981) AC. at p. 464 and Decro-Wall International S.A. v. Practitioners in Marketing Ltd. (1971) 1 WLR. at pp. 369-370 per Salmon L. J.

— A.G. Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) – SC.53/1985

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