Kenya is one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa and is considered to be one of the key economic hubs in the region. The country has witnessed significant political, structural and social-economic reforms, which have largely driven sustained economic growth, social development and political gains over the past decade.
The employment and labor relations legislative framework is relatively new; the statutes are just under a decade old. These statutes have significantly changed labor law in certain material respects and greatly enhanced the rights of employees. The promulgation of the Constitution has also benefited employees by enshrining the right to fair labor practice as a fundamental right and freedom.
Employees mostly work 8 hours a day Monday through Friday and five hours on Saturday for a total of 45 hours a week, although they may legally work up to 52 hours a week. Collective agreements may modify the working hours but typically provide for 40 to 52 working hours per week. Employment Act Sec. 27.
Overtime is defined as time worked in excess of the normal number of hours per week and is paid at the rate of 1.5 times an employee’s normal hourly rate on weekdays, 2 times the basic hourly rate on Sundays and public holidays.
Overtime plus straight time cannot exceed 116 hours in total in any period of 2 consecutive weeks.
A person employed for night work may not work for more than 60 hours a week. Overtime plus straight time cannot exceed 144 hours for employees engaged in night work in a period of 2 consecutive weeks. Employment Act Sec. 27B.
Under the Employment Act, every employee is entitled to at least 1 day of rest in every 7-day period. Kenyan law does not specifically provide for meal breaks or rest intervals during working hours. Employment Act Sec. 27.
Kenya observes the following 13 public holidays:
The Minister may at any time if he thinks fit, by notice in the Gazette, declare any day to be a public holiday either in addition to the days mentioned.
When Public Holiday Falls on a Sunday
Where, in any year, a public holiday falls on a Sunday, then the first succeeding day, not being a public holiday, shall be a public holiday and the first-mentioned day shall cease to be a public holiday.
Work on Holiday
Where employees work on public holidays, they are entitled to payment at 2 times their wage rate in addition to their normal wages. Public Holidays Act, 1998, Schedule 1.
An employee shall be entitled:
An employer may, with the consent of the employee divide the minimum annual leave entitlement into different parts to be taken at different intervals.
Unless otherwise provided in an agreement between an employee and an employer or in a collective agreement, and on condition that the length of service of an employee during any leave-earning period entitles the employee to such a period, one part of the parts agreed upon if employee divides the duration of leave, shall consist of at least 2 uninterrupted working weeks.
The uninterrupted part of the annual leave with pay shall be granted and taken during the 12 consecutive months of service and the remainder of the annual leave with pay shall be taken not later than 18 months from the end of the leave earning period being the period in respect of which the leave entitlement arose.
Where in a contract of service an employee is entitled to leave days in excess of the minimum 21 days, the employer and the employee may agree on how to utilize the leave days. Employment Act, 2007, Sec 28.
The minimum wage in Kenya varies by profession and location.
Effective May 1, 2017, Kenya’s lowest hourly minimum wage of 64.55 shillings applies to employees in Occupational Group 1 working in Minimum Wage Area 3 and Kenya’s highest hourly minimum wage of 262.80 shillings applies to employees in Group 11 working in Area 1 and some employees in Group 12 working in Area 1.
For Area wise details please see Minimum Wage Order.
A female employee shall be entitled to 3 months of maternity leave with full pay. On the expiry of a female employee’s maternity leave, the female employee shall have the right to return to the job which she held immediately prior to her maternity leave or to a reasonably suitable job on terms and conditions not less favorable than those which would have applied had she not been on maternity leave.
Where the maternity leave has been extended with the consent of the employer; or immediately on expiry of maternity leave before resuming her duties a female employee proceeds on sick leave or with the consent of the employer on annual leave; compassionate leave; or any other leave, the 3 months maternity leave shall be deemed to expire on the last day of such extended leave.
A female employee shall only be entitled to the rights if she gives not less than 7 days’ notice in advance or a shorter period as may be reasonable in the circumstances of her intention to proceed on maternity leave on a specific date and to return to work thereafter. The notice shall be in writing.
A female employee who seeks to exercise any of the rights mentioned in this section shall, if required by the employer, produce a certificate as to her medical condition from a qualified medical practitioner or midwife.
No female employee shall forfeit her annual leave entitlement on account of having taken her maternity leave. Employment Act, 2007, Sec 29.
A male employee shall be entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave with full pay. Employment Act, 2007, Sec 29.
After 2 consecutive months of service with his employer, an employee shall be entitled to sick leave of not less than 7 days with full pay and thereafter to sick leave of 7 days with half pay, in each period of 12 consecutive months of service, subject to production by the employee of a certificate of incapacity to work signed by a duly qualified medical practitioner or a person acting on the practitioner’s behalf in charge of a dispensary or medical aid center.
For an employee to be entitled to sick leave with full pay the employee shall notify or cause to be notified as soon as is reasonably practicable the employer of his absence and the reasons for it. The 12 continuous months of service shall be deemed to commence on the date of the employment of the employee and on such subsequent anniversary dates of employment.
An employer shall have the right to place all his employees on an annual cycle of an anniversary date falling on a day to be determined by the employer. Employment Act, 2007, Sec 30.
Other leaves not indicated in the employment act but being used by many organizations in Kenya are;
Compassionate leave (a new amendment is in Bill Stage but if passed this leave will be added in the Act)
Compassionate leave in Kenya allows an employee to attend to his/her misfortunes which are usually not planned for and may occur at any point in time including death, sickness or accidents of relatives and friends. So it’s generally up to the company’s policy to decide on which direction to approach the compassionate leave from.
Compulsory leave is an administrative leave imposed on an employee by the employer normally to pave way for investigations into possible employment offenses which may ultimately lead to the commencement of disciplinary proceedings.
Leave of Absence
Upon request, other employers in Kenya allow their employees to an unpaid leave of absence from work for a period of time depending on the organization.
Last updated on: September 16th, 2019