The labour laws of 2007 improved the environment for employers, employees and trade unions. Parliament enacted five labour laws — the Employment Act, Labour Institutions Act, Labour Relations Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act and Work Injury Benefits Act.
The aim of the laws was to repeal and replace six core labour laws and bring them into conformity with the current challenges and demands of national development and international labour standards.
The law replaced the Employment Act and Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act. lt establishes minimum terms and conditions of employment. Unlike the repealed Act, the new one defines a number of common terms – probationary contract, migrant workers, worst forms of child labour, dependant, forced or compulsory labour and HIV.
lt also provides for prohibition against forced labour, discrimination in employment on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, mental or HIV status and sexual harassment.
lt deals with payment, disposal and recovery of wages, allowances and deductions of an employee. The major changes are that the employer cannot deduct employees wages exceeding two thirds. The previous law provided for deductions up to 50 per cent. Further, all employees are entitled to itemised payslips or salary statements. The law also provides for basic conditions of a contract of service – hours of work and annual, maternity and sick leave, housing, water, food and
medical attention. In the new provision, an employee is entitled to three months’ maternity leave. However, the employee shall not forfeit annual leave. The law introduces a 14-day paternity leave.
The legislation deals with termination and dismissal. For the first time, the law provides for payment of service pay for every year worked to an employee whose contract has been terminated. Further, the legislation provides that the Labour minister may require an employer to insure his employees against redundancy through an employment insurance scheme.
The employers are also required to justify termination of employment. The law introduces the concept of unfair dismissals. lt also regulates the engagement of children in employment. lt prohibits employment of children in any activity that constitutes child labour. It also sets the minimum age and conditions of employment of a child.
Employers are required to keep records and make them available for inspection. They are also required to notily the Director of Employment of vacancies, termination and abolition of offices. The law also outlines requirements for a foreign contract and sets out complaint procedures and jurisdiction in cases of disputes between the employee and
Labour Institutions Act
The law establishes institutions and organisations for the administration and management of labour relations the national Labour Board, the industrial Court, Committee of Inquiry, Labour Administration and Inspection, the Wages Council and Employment Agencies.
The law, however, does not apply to the Armed Forces, Kenya Police, Prisons Service, Administration Police and the National Youth Service.
National Labour Board
The members are appointed by the Minister for Labour and drawn from the most representative federation of trade unions and employers, independent members and Government officials. The boards role is to advise the minister on employment and labour, legislation, trade unionism and codes ofgood conduct.
It also advises on ILO issues, international or regional associations, systems of labour inspection and the administration of labour Acts, public employment service, productivity, appointment of wages councils and members of the Industrial
Other issues include setting compensation benelits, manpower development, registration, suspension and cancellation of registration of trade unions and employers organisations.
It isa pillar ofindustrial peace and
was established to hear and deter-
mine industrial disputes referred
by the Minister for Labour, register
( Zollective Bargaining Agreements
((]BAs) between employers and
workers and promote the spirit of
tri-partism between Government,
employers and employees.
The Industrial Court was estab-
lished in 1964 under the Trade Dis-
pute Act (Cap 234). It got its current
shape in 1971, when the ‘I`rade Dis-
pute Act was amended. The Indus-
trial Coun tnay award compensation
or order reinstatement. Its decisions
are final. For the first time, the court
has powers to grant injunctive relief
prohibition, declaratory orders,
award damages and specific perfor»
mance apart from re—engagement
and reinstatement ofemployees.
()nce appointed, the judge ofthe
Industrial Court holds office until
retirement, resignation or removal
or death. In the old law, Industrial
Court judges served on renewable
The law empowers the Minister for
Labour to appoint a committee of
inquiry to look into trade disputes.
The legislation provides for the
offices of ( Zommissioner for Labour,
Director of` Employment, Registrar
of”I`rade Unions and other officials.
lt advises the minister on fixing
minimum wages and terms of`con—
ditions ofservice for various sectors
ofthe economy. The law requires
that employment agencies — also
called placement agencies — be reg—
istered with the Director of`Employ—
Work Injury Act
The law replaced the Workman’s
Compensation Act. It introduces a
legal framework compliant with ILO
conventions related to co1npensa—
tion of` employees injured at work
or who contract diseases and to
extend insurance cover. Employers
are obligated to obtain an insur-
ance policy to cover the employer’s
liability, register with the Director of
Work Injuries Benefits and to keep
records and make annual returns.
The law also provides tor the pro-
cedure of reporting accidents during
employment. The limitation period
for reporting is 12 months alter
which the claim lapses. Compensa-
tion for disablement and death is
The law provides for employers to
provide medical aid to employees.
‘i`his includes first arid faicilities, ta1k·
mg employees to amd from ai medi-
cail faicility amd paiyment of medical
Labour Relations Act
it provides an legail framiework to
promote freedom of aissociaitiou,
thc right to collective bairgaiining,
streamtlines the registraition of trade
unions, employers orgamisaitious
amd federations of traide unions
amd employers orgamiaitions. The
laiw ailso provides for effective mam-
aigement of propeity, funds amd
aiccotmts of trade imious, employer
i organisations and their respective federa-
5 tions. lt also promotes expeditious dispute
y The Act merged the repealed Trade
l Unions Act and Trade Disputes Act. It sets
l Out the procedure for application ofregis-
f tration and suspension and cancellation of
registration oftrade rrnions and e1nployers’
organisations. lt stipulates who may become
a member or official of a trade union or
lt introduces alternative dispute resolution
through independent conciliators agreed
upon by the parties. it empowers the minister
to appoint conciliators and a Committee of
Inquiry. The Act introdrrces urgent referral
ofcases to the lndrrstrial Corrrt concerning
recognition oftrade rrnions, redundancy,
strikes and lockorrts, and disputes in essential
The period ofnotice for strikes and lock-
orrts has been redrrced to seven days. There
is also provision fer an aggrieved party to
obtain a prohibition order to avert a strike or
Occupational Safety and Health Act
lt repealed the Factories and Other Places
of`Work Act. The new law provides for the
safety and health ofworkers at workplaces,
including offices, schools, academic institu-
tions and plantations. The law establishes
codes ofpractices for use at workplaces.
The law establishes the National ( Zouncil
for ()ccrrpational Safety and Health to replace
the National Advisory Committee for ()ccu-
pational Safety and Health. The Council will
advise the minister on occupational death,
injury and diseases. lt provides for safety
advisors who carry out audits. But it empow-
ers the minister to exempt some workplaces
from registration if he is satisfied
that adequate arrangements protect
employees. The law proxddes for
safety requirements, including how
to use dangerous liquids, storage,
ladders and evacuation procedures
at the workplace.
Safe handling, storage and use
of chemicals and hazardous sub-
stances are also provided for in the
legislation. It also provides for basic
welfare facilities at workplaces —
supply of drinking water, washing
facilities, accommodation for cloth-
ing not used during working hours,
sitting facilities and first aid.
‘l`he law establishes the Occupa-
tional Safety and Health F und. lt
also provides for the Act, rules and
notices to be displayed in a promi-
nent position at the workplace.
Employees are entitled to sick,
maternity and paternity leave. Other
forms oflcave are compassionate,
annual, study and leave for trade