Minimum wage

As was expected, the President announced an 18% minimum wage increment on Labour Day. The primary rationale was to cushion workers against the effects of the current state of the economy. According to statistics obtained from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the rate of inflation in April 2016, January 2017 and April 2017 was 5.27%, 6.99% and 11.48% respectively.

Important facts about the minimum wage

  1. It applies to specific categories of workers, including: – general labourers, watchmen, nannies, domestic workers, caretakers, sweepers, messengers and artisans;
  2. The increase takes effect from 1st May 2017, the Legal Notice is normally published sometime in June;
  3. The increase affects those paid an hourly, daily and monthly wage;
  4. The monthly rate is exclusive of housing allowance whereas the hourly and daily rates are inclusive of housing allowance;
  5. The rate varies depending on the location of employment in Kenya; Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu is one category. All former municipalities as well as Mavoko, Ruiru and Limuru is another category. The rest of Kenya is the other category. The former earn more.

Likely effects

BHP-cuts-jobs-iron-oreWorkers are reasonably happy whereas employers have stated categorically that the increment is too high and businesses will most likely have to take steps to cushion themselves against this additional expense – this may be through job cuts or increase in product prices.

There is likely to be a series of deadlocks in CBA negotiations on wage increments. Since trade unions normally demand more than the minimum wage increment, employers are likely to resist this leading to reporting of numerous industrial disputes.


Two (2) important Bills were introduced in March. The first one is The Employment (Amendment) Bill 2017. The Bill proposes an amendment to Section 29 of the Employment Act on maternity leave. The current provision provides for maternity leave of three (3) months. The proposal is to give a female employee the right to extend the maternity leave for a period of three months without pay. The proposal is said to be in order to align to the ILO recommended duration of maternity leave as well as in recognition of the  WHO recommendation for infants to be exclusively breastfed for six (6) months – the amendment will aid working mothers achieve this goal.

The second one is The Breastfeeding Mothers Bill, 2017. The preamble, provides, among other things, that the proposed Act is necessary to make provision for breastfeeding mothers and to provide for employers’ obligations towards breastfeeding working mothers in the workplace. A “baby” is defined as a child of up to twenty four (24) months old. The salient provisions include: –


A woman with a baby may breastfeed or express milk at a lactation place in the workplace; Every employer is required to establish a lactation place in the workplace. This place shall: –

  1. Be private;
  2. Be clean, quiet, private and warm;
  3. Not be a bathroom or toilet;
  4. Have a lockable door;
  5. Have a wash basin;
  6. Have a fridge for storing expressed milk;
  7. Have an electric outlet and lighting;
  8. Have a chair, table and a clean space to store equipment.

Employers are additionally required to: –

  1. Provide a physical environment that is safe for the baby;
  2. Provide appropriate programs that develop a baby’s cognitive, emotional, social and language abilities;
  3. Employ an adequate number of trained staff; and
  4. Provide nutritionally balanced meals and snacks daily.

It is an offence for an employer not to comply with the above. The penalty is a fine not exceeding Kshs. 500,000/= or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one (1) year or both.

In addition…

The employer is to provide a reasonable break time to a breastfeeding mother for purposes of breastfeeding the baby or expressing milk. The break is part of the working hours and should not exceed 45 minutes in every four (4) hours.

570wThe Bill also gives a breastfeeding mother the option of applying for a flexible working arrangement for purposes of breastfeeding or expressing. This is at the employer’s discretion but where the application is rejected, the employer is required to give a written statement.


The Bill further places an obligation on any person who owns or leases a public or private building that is accessible to the public which has a maximum occupancy of thirty (30) persons, to install a baby changing facility.


Whereas no woman should be forced to compromise the health of her child in order to make a living, I’m doubtful that the Bill will be passed without significant amendments.

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About Anne Babu

Anne is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the Founding Partner of Anne Babu & Co. She has practised employment law for over 12 years and her employment law practice has been recognized by the prestigious Chambers & Partners. Anne cares about employers and their labour issues.


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  1. Daniel says:

    Dear Anne;

    Thanks for the succinct summary of the bills. With due respect, these bills may, counter intuitively, hurt women more than benefit them as small businesses may be forced to shun young women employee candidates in order not to bear the cost of their maternity and breastfeeding. Good intentions need to be tempered with business sensitivity

    1. Anne Babu says:

      I agree with you. The latter Bill is especially onerous to employers. This is why I do not think it will pass before Parliament without significant amendments.

  2. Samuel mwangi says:

    Dear Anne

    Your articles are eye openers to many employees. On the 18% increment, does it apply to NGOs? And if it does, how is it supposed to be implemented?

    1. Anne Babu says:

      It applies to the specified categories of workers irrespective of the type of organization. it is implemented by ensuring that workers do not earn less than the prescribed wage.

  3. Wachuka says:

    Great summary, thank you Anne.

  4. Aggrey says:

    Very informative information Anne. It will be really costly for any employer to meet the standards set under those bills. With already a three months maternity leave negatively affecting female employees in employment and even being indirectly segregated against their male counterpart, I concur with Daniel that the Breastfeeding Bill will absolutely work to the detriment of the people it should be protecting. I think it may even hinder small entrepreneurs setting up business in Kenya. A lot of amendments should be made.

  5. erick nyongesa says:

    Good advice but l wish you could clarify the issue of taxation to the lowest paid worker whats is the limit?? do we tax overtime?? am really having hard time with my employees on the issue of taxation on overtime?

    1. Anne Babu says:

      Isn’t the overtime added to the monthly wage and taxed as a block? If it is paid separately then it is only taxable if it goes above the minimum tax threshold – check the tax brackets in the KRA site.

  6. Caroline says:

    Dear Anne , a question out of the topic, how do you calculate the daily rate for an employee.

    1. Anne Babu says:

      I would divide the monthly rate by 30 days.

      1. Nicola Biscardi says:

        If someone has been employed with a weekly salary, how do you calculate the montly salary? Some labour officer say that it is the weekly salary x 4, but, to me that is the salary for 28 days, while the montly salary should be calculated like a weekly salary divided by 7 and multiplied by 30.41(that is 365 days of a year divided by 12 months).

        1. Anne Babu says:

          Compute the daily salary (weekly divide by 7) and multiply by 30 days.

  7. Cyrus Karanja says:

    Informative read, would like to know more, especially to keep abreast of new developments in labour laws.

    1. Anne Babu says:

      You should subscribe; go to the home page.

  8. Diana Kabiru says:

    Dear Anne,

    I am sure that the new employment bill has not effected or signed into law. A colleague in HR department is arguing that the same has been effected. Please clarify this>

    Also when encashing leave days, do you base the same on gross or basic? And how many days do you consider – 30 or 26 days.
    Thank you


    1. Anne Babu says:

      I confirm that the Bill has not been passed.
      Enchashment of leave days should be based on gross pay and 30 days.

      1. Blessed says:

        What’s the exact figure for minimum wage. I understand it was increased by 18%. From what to what?

        1. Anne Babu says:

          See the latest post on domestic workers. The link to the minimum wage order is provided in the point dealing with minimum wage.

  9. Elossy says:

    What is the minimum salary for a house girl in Meru

    1. Anne Babu says:

      Go to the point on minimum wage, click the link to access the wage order where you will find the information you want

  10. Paul says:

    Dear Anne,

    I work as a kitchen assistant in a law firm do I fall under that category of workers?
    And if I do how do I go about ensuring I receive what is duly mine with an employer..PS: my work entails serving clients and partners,washing utensils for staff and food preparation

    1. Anne Babu says:

      Yes you do. You would have to take up the matter through a labour officer to issue a demand or a lawyer but first try and have the matter resolved internally.

  11. martin mulembo says:

    hI I have worked for 9 years with my current employer earning 27,000/=gross pay and a member of a construction union. how much will I be paid as severance pay if I resigned today?

    1. Anne Babu says:

      Check the CBA.

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