Photograph — Bloomberg

Banks operating in Nigeria are now required to seek approval from the central bank if they are to dismiss more than five employees, the Bankers’ Committee said in a recent communique released after its meeting last Friday.

Recently, there has been a wave of mass sacking by banks operating in Nigeria as industry players scale back their operating expenses and “right-size” their staffing needs to remain competitive as well as protect business margins.

Top-tier lender, the United Bank of Africa (UBA) last month disengaged hundreds of its staff in what is said to be an exercise meant to lean into a more competitive workforce demography. And in 2019, Ecobank Nigeria Plc laid off some 1,200 staff members that were considered not “fit-for-purpose” and were replaced by younger employees that had passed through the bank’s training school programme.

Data released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics last December reveal that Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria cut their number of staff by 2,929 in the third quarter of 2019, a 2.8 percent decrease in staff strength compared with Q2 figures.

“Banks should note and be guided by the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) circular in respect of laying off staff that is more than five. This requires apex bank’s notification and approval going forward,” read the document, signed by CBN Director Angela Sere-Ejembi.

In addition, all banks are to send samples of Contract Letter issued to outsourced staff and Service Level Agreement with the company being used to run outsourced staff. The goal is to curb mass layoffs in the industry, which the Committee said would be achieved in the shortest time possible.

Experts have said the industry-wide layoffs depict an emerging shift in human capital strategy as banks (both in Nigeria and across the globe) look to ensure corporate sustainability with an eye on a forward-looking generation of customers.

In line with this, more layoffs are expected across the banking system in 2020, prompting the move by the Nigerian apex bank to prevent and/or regulate further dismissals considering the implications of sacking thousands of workers amid the current economic situation in the country.

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