Labour rights are one of the core thematic areas that Kituo Cha Sheria operates in pursuit of our vision of a just and equitable society. This has been through legal advice and litigation as well as through policy advocacy and education. Kituo has received numerous complaints from workers regarding their terms and conditions of employment. It is Kituo’s experience that the ordinary Kenyan worker lacks basic knowledge about his or her rights as a worker. Similarly employers are equally unaware of their obligations to their workers.
In the year 2007 there was a review of the national labour laws which had been a concern to both the Kenyan public and the Government for a long time. This arose out of tremendous changes experienced in the local labour market such as; structural adjustments, liberalization of the economy and technological innovations. The reviews was aimed at ensuring the laws were responsive to contemporary economic and social changes as well as achieve a new set of reformed updated labour legislation through a coordinated consultative process.
The following six (6) core labour statutes were comprehensively reviewed and repealed in that process.
1) The Employment Act, Cap 226;
2) The Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act, Cap 229;
3) The Trade Unions Act, Cap 233;
4) The Trade Disputes Act, Cap 234;
5) The Factories and Other Places of Work Act, Cap 514; and
6) The Workmen’s Compensation Act, Cap 236.
After that review exercise, 5 new pieces of legislation were enacted.
1) The Employment Act, 2007
2) The Labour Relations Act, 2007
3) The Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2007
4) The Work Injury Benefits Act, 2007
5) The Labour Institutions Act, 2007
Each Act incorporated the principles of the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; thus ensuring the basic human values that are vital to our social and economic development.
This month – July, 2015; the government published new regulations that raise the minimum pay for domestic workers in urban centres. These regulations in a legal notice granted domestic workers in Nairobi a 12% pay increase, effectively pushing their monthly salary to Ksh. 10,954 from Ksh. 9,781 last year.
The regulations set the minimum monthly salaries an employer can pay a domestic worker in every major town, compulsory weekly off days and overtime compensation. An employer who contravenes the new rules risks serving a jail term of three months or a fine of Ksh. 50,000 or both.
The Right to Work is catered for in Kenyan laws. Article 41 in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on Labour relations and the establishment of the Industrial Court through the Industrial Court Act No. 20 of 2011 with the same status as the high Court, further enforces and guarantees labour rights providing a better environment for pursuing labour Cases.
Our publication dubbed #KenyanWorkerAndTheLaw is designed for workers, employers as well as anyone else who wants to know and understand the law in Kenya as it relates to labour and labour relations.