Navigating Kenyan Labour Laws: A guide for HR professionals

Kenya has a complex labour law framework that governs various aspects of the employment relationship, including hiring, termination, and workplace safety. A number of Acts have been passed by the government to address these aspects of employment as follows:

  1. Employment Act: The Employment Act is the primary legislation that governs the employment relationship in Kenya. The Act lays out the rights and obligations of both employees and employers and covers a wide range of issues, including working hours, leave entitlements, termination procedures, and rights of representation. According to the Act, an employee should work for not more than eight hours in a day, and not more than 48 hours in a week. They are also entitled to 21 days of annual leave and seven days of sick leave per annum.
  2. Minimum Wage Act: The Minimum Wage Act sets the minimum wage for different categories of workers in Kenya. Employers are required to pay their employees at least the minimum wage, which is subject to revision periodically by the government. Currently, the minimum wage for unskilled workers is KES 13,572 (approx. 130 USD) per month while that of a skilled worker is KES 15,287 (approx. 150 USD) per month. Employers who fail to pay their employees the minimum wage are liable to penalties and fines.
  3. Occupational Safety and Health Act: The Occupational Safety and Health Act aims to ensure that workplaces in Kenya are safe and healthy for employees. The Act requires employers to carry out risk assessments and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents and injuries. Employers are also required to provide safety equipment and training, and to appoint safety officers if the nature of the work warrants it.
  4. Retirement Benefits Act: The Retirement Benefits Act requires employers to provide retirement benefits to their employees. The Act sets out the conditions under which these benefits must be provided, including the calculation of benefits, and the rights and obligations of employers and employees. Employers are required to contribute 5% of their employee’s monthly salary to the retirement benefit scheme while employees contribute 1.5% of their salary.
  5. Labour Institutions Act: The Labour Institutions Act establishes the institutions responsible for enforcing labour laws in Kenya. The Department of Labour and the Industrial Court are responsible for enforcing compliance with labour laws and for settling disputes between employers and employees.
  6. National Social Security Fund Act: The National Social Security Fund Act requires employers to register with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and make contributions towards the retirement benefits of their employees. Employers are required to contribute 5% of their employee’s monthly salary to the NSSF while employees contribute 1% of their salary.
  7. Collective Bargaining Agreement: Employers and employees can negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which is a legally binding agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of employment. CBAs can cover issues such as wages, working hours, and leave entitlements, and can be used to supplement or replace the provisions of the Employment Act.
  8. Discrimination in Employment: The Constitution of Kenya prohibits discrimination in employment, including on the basis of race, gender, age, and disability. Employers are required to provide an equal opportunity for all employees regardless of their status, such as their race, gender, age, or disability. Discrimination in any form is illegal and can lead to legal action being taken against the employer

These are the main labour laws that HR professionals in Kenya need to be aware of and it’s important to stay up to date with these laws and regulations as they can change over time. Additionally, HR professionals should also be aware that compliance with labour laws is closely monitored and failure to comply can result in penalties, fines, and even criminal prosecution.

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