His Lordship, Hon. Justice Mustapha Tijjani of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial Division has dismissed the case filed by Nkiruka Obineme against Unity Bank on entitlement claim for lacking merit.
The Court held that Nkiruka cannot claim for monetization of the leave backlog when the policy has been abolished by the Bank since 2015 that claimant has waived her right to such entitlement.
From the facts, the Claimant- Nkiruka was employed in 2009 and worked for six (6) years before her exit from the service.
The Claimant alleged that at the time her appointment was terminated, her Annual Compensation package as Assistant Manager was N7, 181,131.70 with 105 days backlog leave in the sum of N2, 065,805.01 and Interest on the gratuity invested by the bank at the agreed rate of 5% per annum from January 2015 to September 2015 in the sum of N420, 669.34.
However, the Defendant-Unity Bank submitted that gratuity scheme has been abolished as stated in the Termination of Gratuity Scheme Agreement dated 3rd February 2016 that it has also stopped commuting leave backlog to cash and same was communicated to employees via Portal Announcement and internal memo.
The Bank further stated that Claimant was paid her entire gratuity and entitlement due to her as reflected in the Statement of Accounts urged the court to dismiss the case for being speculative, and has no basis in law whatsoever.
Counsel to the Claimant stated further that Nkiruka has shown that the calculation of her entitlements is based on her contract of employment, the employee handbook and policy of the Defendant that Portal Announcement and internal memo are conflicting, inconsistent, illegal, null and void and cannot by any stretch of imagination alter the condition of employment.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Tijanni held that Claimant is not entitled to the unpaid gratuity for 12 months claimed as the gratuity scheme was abolished in the Defendant’s company with effect from January 1, 2015.
“From the averments of the CW at paragraph 5 and 8 above, it is clear that the Claimant is aware of the change in the Defendant’s policy of monetizing leave backlog after cessation of employment. The Claimant’s deposition at paragraphs 6 and 8 requires further proof and the Claimant did not provide any.
“The Claimant was fully aware of the Portal Announcement and the internal memo but she did not utilize her leave backlog before the effective date and remained in the employment of the Defendant after the effective date, I do not think she can claim for monetization of the leave backlog at the time the policy has been abolished. I find that the Claimant has thereby waived her right as such and I so hold.” Justice Mustapha Tijjani ruled.