Employers in Kenya to be bared from engaging their staff after works hours in proposed bill
- The proposed law elaborates on the circumstances under which an employee may fail to respond to calls, text messages, emails, or assignments past working hours, weekends, and public holidays.
- The bill proposes a maximum fine of Ksh.500,000 or a one-year jail term for any employers contravening the law.
- The Employment (Amendment) Bill is sponsored by Nandi Senator Samson Cherarkey
Kenya is among the African countries that have recorded rapid growth in the digital space. With more uptake of affordable internet and devices and a population ready to grab opportunities, more people are becoming digitally engaged for long hours in both work-related, social, and leisure activities.
It’s in light of these facts that a new bill proposed by the Kenyan senate now seeks to give Kenyans, “ the right to disconnect in the digital age.”
If passed into law, The Employment (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Nandi Senator Samson Cherarkey, may bar employees from engaging employees with work-related tasks after working hours.
In explaining the objectives and reasons for the Bill, Senator Charerkey says: “Digital connectivity has also been noted to be slowly eroding leisure time for employees hence affecting their work-life balance.”
The proposed law elaborates on the circumstances under which an employee may fail to respond to calls, text messages, emails, or assignments past working hours, weekends, and public holidays.
Part of the Bill reads: “Where an employer contacts an employee during the period when there are no mutually agreed out-of-work hours, the employee — (a) shall not be obliged to respond and shall have the right to disconnect; and (b) may choose to respond, for which the employee shall be entitled to get compensation.”
The bill proposes a maximum fine of Ksh.500,000 or a one-year jail term for any employers contravening the law.
The proposed new law sets in motion a public debate relating to work-life balance, employee rights and the country’s desire to become a 23-hour economy. Many companies have adopted a hybrid system where part of their teams works remotely, but the Bill fails to elaborate on how such situations should be handled.
The Bill further fails to acknowledge that digital space has become an essential creator of employment and some of the proposals in it may reverse the gains made to this end.
This notwithstanding, the proposed law requires employers to put in place policies to guide circumstances under which the right to disconnect may be waived.
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