Kenya needs vacation laws in these Covid times

Personal finance

Kenya needs vacation laws in these Covid times

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Parliament during a previous session. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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With CATHY MPUTHIA
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Summary

  • The amendment to the Labor Code allows adoptive parents to apply for adoption leave that is similar to the existing maternity and paternity leave.
  • The procedure for obtaining pre-adoption leave is such that the adoptive society is involved in authenticating the process.

A few days ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed two important laws that will change the business environment. These are the Employment (Amendment) Act 2019 and the Business (Amendment) Act 2020.

The amendment to the Labor Code allows adoptive parents to apply for adoption leave that is similar to the existing maternity and paternity leave. The procedure for obtaining pre-adoption leave is such that the adoptive society is involved in authenticating the process.

The new provision ensures that there is no discrimination between birth parents and adoptive parents with regard to labor rights and vacation requests.

So far, the law is only aimed at parents who adopt. No provision has been made for parents who have fostered a child or who are the guardians of children.

One amendment that I really want to see in the labor laws is the provision of a “vacation” to reflect the current economic situation. A leave scheme is treated as temporary unpaid leave that workers take to allow the employer to reorganize. An employee is not paid during a vacation. The nice thing about the appointment, however, is that the employee continues to keep his or her job. It’s better than firing staff.

The advantage of vacation over layoffs is that an employee on leave, as opposed to being given notice, can return to work on a specific future date and under specified conditions. An employee cannot be fired or replaced during the vacation period.

Lock-down emergency

The second benefit is that an employee will still have access to employee benefits such as medical benefits and pensions during the period. Unless the contract provides otherwise, a laid-off employee cannot claim benefits such as medical benefits or insurance. An employee on leave still has access to these benefits and is therefore better than being laid off.

According to an annual report, around 20 percent of Kenyan companies laid off employees as a direct result of the pandemic. One of the problems that caused major problems with the new containment measures is the risk of job losses. Some sectors, such as aviation and hospitality, are directly affected by the new regulation, which requires them to be completely shut down. The restaurants have already laid off most of their employees and chosen to keep only a few key employees.

A vacation regime would give employees in such industries a little hope and give them a return to the work formula when things get better.

Win-win result

Many employers do not want to lay off their employees. They are only doing it as a measure of survival. A vacation arrangement is therefore a win-win situation between employers and their employees. Vacation allows an employer to restructure and relax, and it also saves the employer the cost of laying off workers.

For the employee, it enables the employee to access services. If an employer requires an employee on leave to work, the employer must pay for the days the employee worked during the vacation period.

I hope the government is considering enacting a vacation law to protect employees from massive layoffs.

However, the lack of a law does not prevent you from entering into contracts with vacation provisions when it comes to current employment contracts. They can still be included in employment contracts.

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