Court orders firm to pay ex-staff N.630m pocket expenditure
The presiding judge, Asaba Judicial division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice John Targema, has ordered IHS Towers Nigeria Ltd to pay Mr. Francis Ukwunna the sum of N630, 025 unpaid out of pocket expenditures within 30 days,.
The court held that Mr. Ukwunna claim that the computation of his severance entitlements in the termination letter is different from his contract of employment is not enough to get special damages.
The plaintiff had a contract of employment with his former firm before being acquired by IHS Nigeria Ltd in 2016 and was given another contract of employment, that during the acquisition negotiation process there was an oral agreement between the former company employees and IHS Nigeria Ltd that upon termination, the firm would pay the employee his annual salary multiplied by his number of service year as due severance entitlement/benefit.
That before the termination of the his employment contract, his former firm was also owing him for approved out of pocket expenses made in the course of his employment which IHS Towers Nigeria Ltd also refused to pay.
The firm opposing claimed that the termination letter agrees with the terms of service between them and the steps taken are according to the required law.
Delivering judgment, Justice Targema held that by section 10.4 of Employee Manual, it is staff who retire normally at 60 or on medical grounds that are entitled to severance benefits including full salary up to the date of retirement; not staff who are disengaged by sanctions under section 9.1.4 of Employee Manual as is the case with Mr. Francis
On the claim for out of pocket expenses, the court said IHS Towers Nigeria Ltd argument that it may well be that those out of pocket expenditures have been paid off by the former employer creates the impression of criminality on the part of Mr. Francis, requires IHS Towers Nigeria Ltd to prove this convincingly, “Towers Nigeria Ltd did not do so even when it had the opportunity, and still has all the records with it, rather it targeted at base sentiments. In my view, the truth about out of pocket expenses is preferable.”