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Last updated on: April 27th, 2022

Labor Requirements

Labor relations in Kenya are regulated by; The Employment Act, 2007, The Labour Institutions Act, 2007, The Labour Relations Act, 2007, The Occupational Safety And Health Act, 2007, The Works Injury Benefits Act (WIBA) of 2007.


Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The normal working hours shall be 48 hours during a six-day work week (8 hours per day). 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.


Overtime plus straight time cannot exceed 116 hours in total in any period of 2 consecutive weeks.

Night Work

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.


Kenyan law does not specifically provide for meal breaks or rest intervals during working hours.

Work On Rest Days

Every employee is entitled to at least 1 day of rest in every 7-day period. 


Employees working on weekly rest days are entitled to payment at double the regular wage for such work . If an employee is required to work overtime on a rest day, he is paid double the regular wage for such work. Employment Act Sec. 27.

Sunday Work

Where employees do overtime work on Sunday, they are entitled to double the regular wage for such work.

Public Holidays

Kenya observes the following 13 public holidays:

  • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • May 1: Labor Day
  • June 1: Madaraka Day
  • Eid-ul-Fitr
  • Moi Day: 10th October
  • Mashujaa (Kenyatta) Day
  • Dec. 12: Independence Day
  • Dec. 25: Christmas Day
  • Dec. 26: Boxing Day
  • Idd-ul-Azha (Date depending upon the appearance of the moon)
  • Diwali (Date to be determined in accordance with the Hindu Calendar)

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. An employee shall be entitled to a day’s holiday with full pay on every public holiday during his or her employment. 


When a 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

Employees are entitled to full day’s pay of their remuneration on public or national holidays. Employees working on public holidays are entitled to  double their wage rate for such work. Employees working overtime on public holiday are entitled to double their wage rate for such work. Public Holidays Act, 1998, Schedule 1.

Annual Leave

An employee shall be entitled:

      • After every 12 consecutive months of service with his employer, to not less than 21 working days of leave with full pay, which is 1.75 days of annual leave for one month of service.
      • Where employment is terminated after the completion of 2 or more consecutive months of service during any 12 months’ leave-earning period, to not less than 1 and 3-quarter days of leave with full pay, in respect of each completed month of service in that period, to be taken consecutively.

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, the minimum length of annual leave, taken at one time and during the first 12 months of the entitlement of the annual leave, has to be 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.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Kenya varies by profession and location. The last increase in minimum wage happened in 2018 but was implemented in January 2019. 


Special Leave

Maternity Leave

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.

Paternity Leave

A male employee shall be entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave with full pay. Employment Act, 2007, Sec 29.


Pre-Adoption Leave

The employee shall be entitled to 1 month’s pre-adoptive leave with full pay, where a child is to be placed in the continuous care and control of an applicant who is an employee under the Employment Act. Employment Act, 2007, Sec 29A.

Sick Leave

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

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.

Disclaimer: The material provided above is for informational purposes only and is subject to change. We endeavor to keep all material up-to-date and correct but make no representations about the information's completeness, accuracy, or reliability. Laws vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change and interpretation based on individual factors that may differ between organizations. The material is not meant to constitute legal advice and we suggest you seek the advice of legal counsel in connection with any of the information presented.