By Lekan Babawale
The umbrella body of the Private Employment Agencies in Nigeria, Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria (HuCaPAN) on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 held its 9th Annual General Meeting (AGM), in line with the social distancing protocol in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first ever Open Virtual Annual General Meeting gave members the opportunity to participate from different parts of the world. It accorded the Executive Committee to present the scorecard of the Association since the last meeting. At the meeting, HuCaPAN got member’s approval for its financial statements for the year ended 2019; appointed new auditors and ratified its amended Constitution.
At the meeting which was held on Zoom, the President, Mr. Remi Adegboyega who doubled as the Chairman of the meeting in his address identified the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak as the reason for the virtual meeting which would have hitherto held in April physically.
He said that the COVID-19 has affected every sector of the economy including the outsourcing industry urging members to however, take advantage of the new opportunities that the situation has provided.
“COVID-19 has undoubtedly taken toll on our industry just as it has affected domestic and international businesses across countries and sectors. COVID-19 forced our offices to close totally or partially. It impaired the ability to manage day-to-day service delivery for certain clients or at certain sites and result in, among other things, losses of revenue and inadvertent breaches of client contracts if a group of employees who serve the same customers was unable to work at the same time. Some of our member-companies have experienced contract cancellation; downward contract review; inability of clients to fulfill obligations; and reduction of manpower among others. Even, our governments partially shut government; organizations shut workplaces, stores, and processing plants. Many companies had to resort to digital facilities like video conferencing, Google, Microsoft, Skype and other tools to work remotely.
“The panic and disruptions to services have showed our unpreparedness to emergencies and has opened a new vista for capacity building training for our members and the public. In order to maintain relevance in the corporate world, we need training on modern digital skills and tools. During this tough time, Microsoft has seen more than 750% increase in the usage of its collaboration platform Teams.
“The pandemic has changed our social and work environment culture. One of the key lessons we have learned is to plan towards creating a distributed workforce and allow employees to work remotely when and where necessary. As a result of the closure of schools, many organizations allowed their employees to work remotely and adapt to the work-from-home culture fully (WFH). The major challenge in this is that many companies do not have enough technology and resources for employees to work at home. This system further poses challenges of the helpless old systems, poor network connectivity, and UPS backup. More than two-thirds of employees lack access to business tools like Skype, Zoom, Cisco Webex etc. I urge you all to maintain hygienic workplace, encourage social distancing and remote working practices as the world continues to find solution to the virus. However, as much as the pandemic has created challenges to our industry; it has equally created new opportunities. We must explore and key into these new opportunities.”
While commenting on a proposed private member bill at the House of Representatives which aimed at outlawing outsourcing in Nigeria, Adegboyega said that the sponsor of the bill was not well informed on outsourcing industry stating that there is clear difference between outsourcing and casualisation. He added that HuCaPAN mantra is that anywhere a Nigerian is found working; he/she must have a decent job.
He said, “It appears that the sponsor of the bill (like many other members) are not well informed about the concept of outsourcing because even the United Nations and its other agencies make use of outsourced personnel like interpreters, drivers, security personnel etc.
“Most of our lawmakers, policy makers and Nigerians have not researched into outsourcing and its benefits to the economy. Private Employment Agencies employ between 3-5 million workers and pays different forms of tax like Company Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) etc. to the government. There is no relationship between outsourcing which promotes decent jobs and casualisation. I urge our legislators to rather be concerned with terms and conditions of service of the workers rather than who they work for. I am optimistic that the bill would fail on technical ground given the fact that labour legislation is a tripartite one which involves the employers, labour unions and the government and they would not support the bill.
He stated further that, “HuCaPAN has made its position known to the Labour Act Review Committee through the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA). Meanwhile, HuCaPAN has been engaging stakeholders including the labour centres – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FML&E) and other key stakeholders to ensure that the bill is not included in our labour law. Also, we have been engaging the media to enlighten the public on outsourcing and its benefits to the economy.
“As a responsible Association, we have given ourselves, a housekeeping guideline in addition to the Nigeria Code of Conduct for Private Employment Agencies. All member companies have been directed to ensure that HMO, Pension, and Group Life Insurance are taken into consideration in contract terms as well as circulation of the Code of Conduct for Private Employment Agencies in Nigeria to members and relevant stakeholders.”
Adegboyega said that HuCaPAN membership grew by Thirty Six (36) members in 2019 adding that based on the report of the Public Advocacy Committee established by HuCaPAN, the Private Employment Agencies in Nigeria now employs over Three Million (3,000,000) Nigerians of management and non-management cadre in Nigeria and abroad with the volume of fund in our industry risen to a tune of One Trillion and Four Hundred Billion Naira (1,400,000,000,000).
The President said that that HuCaPAN would continue to partner with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment whom was recently supported with three (3) Desktops, two (2) Laptops, one (1) Printer and an Internet Modem with six (6) months’ subscription and other social partners to promote decent job for workers.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige who was represented by the Director of Employment and Wages, Mr. John Nyamali and the Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Forum (NECA), Dr. Timothy Olawale who was represented by Barrister Thompson Akpabio, Deputy Director, Legal, Regulatory and Taxation congratulated HuCaPAN for maintaining the standard that the industry requires.
Ngige appreciated HuCaPAN for the computers and office equipment donated to the ministry saying that they are currently being deployed to facilitate licensing of Private Employment Agencies in the country. He urged HuCaPAN to continue to partner with the ministry to weed out quacks in the industry.
He added that the labour laws are currently under review saying that the validation of the reviewed document is ongoing. He said that the issue of ban on international recruitment is being attended to at the ministry as the ministry has developed Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) and forwarded it to the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Director General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Dr. Timothy Olawale commended HuCaPAN for continuously organising capacity building programs for its members. He said “I commend HuCaPAN for continuous building of the capacity of its members especially, decentralizing its workshop to three locations which has improved participation and quality of the workshops.”
Members reappointed Bolu Adesina & Co. (Chartered Accountant) as Auditors.
The Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria (HuCaPAN) is the umbrella organisation of registered/licenced recruiters in Nigeria, also referred to as Private Employment Agencies. The aims and objectives of the Association, among others, are to develop and promote International Labour Standards and ethical practices in recruitment, deployment and management of outsourced personnel in Nigeria.
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