28 Jun Dissatisfied With The Orders Of The NLC? Here Are Your Options.
The National Labour Commission (NLC) is an adjudicatory body responsible for the settlement of labour disputes in Ghana. Its statutory duties include facilitating the settlement of labour disputes, settling industrial disputes and investigating complaints related to unfair labour practices.
After a complaint is filed at the NLC, the NLC is empowered to make orders to resolve the matter pursuant to the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) (the “Act”). Where a party is dissatisfied with the orders or decisions of the NLC made, he is not left without a remedy. There is however the absence of a direct right of appeal for dissatisfied parties against all decisions of the NLC under the Act except for decisions concerning unfair labour practices and compulsory arbitration.
Should the NLC make a finding that a party has engaged in an unfair labour practice, it may make orders which may include an order forbidding the person to engage or continue to engage in such activities. A person aggrieved by orders made by the NLC in this regard can seek redress by appealing to the Court of Appeal within fourteen (14) days.
It is worth noting that the lawmakers omitted to make provisions in the Act for the forum of appeal for a dissatisfied party with regard to other claims. Examples of such other claims include a claim by a pregnant woman worker that she has been assigned to do night work within prohibited hours; a complaint that a pregnant woman worker has been assigned by her employer outside her place of residence; disputes regarding redundancy pay among others.
In the case of National Labour Commission v. Ghana Telecommunication Ltd., the Supreme Court explained that lack of the right of direct appeal does not necessarily render the dissatisfied party remediless. The Apex court, in light of section 172 of the Act held that a party dissatisfied with a decision of the NLC in respect of which the right to appeal has not been provided by the Act may register their dissatisfaction with the decision by failing to comply with an order of the NLC and then opposing any application brought by the NLC for the enforcement of the order in the High Court.
This remained the only option of a dissatisfied party until the Supreme Court expanded the options in its recent decision in the case of James David Brown v. National Labour Commission. The Supreme Court upon a purposive interpretation of section 134 of the Act held that, where NLC is required to make a determination under the Act and no right of appeal is afforded a party dissatisfied with the decision under the Act, such a party shall be entitled to appeal within fourteen (14) days of the determination to the Court of Appeal.
It is worthy of note that this recent decision was rendered by the honourable court without departing from its earlier position that a party dissatisfied with a decision of the NLC may express his dissatisfaction by failing to comply with the order or decision of the NLC and then opposing any application brought by the NLC under section 172 of the Labour Act for the enforcement of the order in the High Court.
In light of the above, where a party is aggrieved by any decision or order of the NLC, the party may either:
- Opt to file an appeal at the Court of Appeal within fourteen (14) days of the order or decision being made; or
- Register their dissatisfaction by failing to comply with the said order or decision and then opposing any application brought by the NLC pursuant to section 172 of the Act for the enforcement of the order in the High Court.
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Sandra Korkor Tetteh (Summer Legal Intern 2023)
 Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), s. 138.
 Ibid s. 134.
 Ibid s. 167 (2).
 Ibid s. 133.
 Ibid s. 134.
 Ibid s. 167.
 Ibid s. 55 (3).
 Ibid s. 56 (3).
 Ibid s. 65 (5).
 (J4/53/2010) (2012) GHASC 12 (13 January,2013).
 (J4/74/2018) (2019) GHASC 43 (19 June 2019).