The labour market has gone through many changes in the last few years.

As the year comes to an end, many Kenyan employers will be re-examining these changes and putting them into consideration for the future. Many Kenyan employers are also expecting more laws regarding remote work, recruitment of employees from all parts of the world, health and wellbeing, data privacy, and others.

In this article, we have summarized important updates in the labour market that have happened in the last 2 years, some amendments that are yet to be signed into law, and some amendments that have been proposed. We believe that such can give you a good glimpse of the changes in the labour market and how they are being interpreted.

  1. Pre-adoptive leave

Child adoption is slowly gaining popularity in Kenya. Both men and women, regardless of their marital status, are adopting children of all ages for different reasons. Luckily, the latest update recognized this move.

In March 2021, President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta signed an employment amendment bill into law. The Act amended the Employment Act, 2007 to provide for pre-adoption leave. As per the act, an employee, regardless of gender or marital status would be entitled to one month’s pre-adoptive leave with full payment.

While the period may not be deemed enough by people who wish to adopt newborns or children who are less than 3 months old, it is a huge step forward as far as family and work life are concerned. An employee should notify the employer at least 14 days before about their intention to adopt a child, give an official notice from the adoption agency of placement of a child in his/her care, custody agreement, and an exit certificate.

Employees who are adopting are also entitled to benefits that those who take maternity leaves have such as retaining their jobs. You can read more about the pre-adoptive leave in Kenya.


  1. Filing returns to the National Employment Authority

The National Employment Authority is mandated to gather information that is relevant for its functions which include but are not limited to: developing methodologies for employment measurement, facilitating continuous training to improve the chances of Kenyans being gainfully employed, registering people who are seeking jobs, and facilitating employment in formal and informal sectors.

Employers who have more than 25 employees are required to fill in information of their employees such as full names, gender, age, nationality, date of employment, and level of education by 31st January every year.

In Sections 76 to 78, employers are obligated to inform the authority about vacancies, filling of the vacancy or abolition, and any lay-offs within two weeks. Failure to comply with the law may lead to a fine of not less than Ksh. 100,000 or imprisonment for not less than six months, or both.


  1. Clearance certificates not a necessity when applying for a government job

For a long time, the process of getting a government job in Kenya didn’t seem pleasant for many Kenyans, especially fresh graduates. Many were required to submit clearance certificates from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations showing that they do not have criminal records, Kenya Revenue Authority showing tax compliance, Credit Reference Bureau, Higher Education Loans Board, Ethics and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

This process however proved to cause more harm than good as many skilled Kenyans were shut from employment opportunities. In addition, Kenyans seeking jobs spent approximately 750M per annum getting the necessary certificates, meaning that this could easily be turned into a cash cow.

The bill that was recently passed, but is yet to be signed into law, stated that Kenyan employers would no longer ask for the above mentioned certificates before a job offer. Once a job was offered, employers could then make plans with their employees on how to get the certificates.

4. Some proposed amendments

  • Normal working hours to be set at 12 each working day.
  • In the prohibition on restraints of trade provisions, employees will be restricted from getting new employment for certain duration to prevent sharing of confidential information with competitors.
  • Extension of sick leave for each employee to thirty days with full payment and additional fifteen days sick leave with half payment for twelve consecutive months of employment.
  • Gratuity to fifteen days for each completed year of employment.
  • A detailed and compulsory process for disciplinary hearing.
  • Constructive dismissal to protect employees from being exposed to unfavorable working conditions.
  • Mandatory suspension from employment to enhance discipline. Employers may suspend employees for 14 days with full pay.
  • On data privacy, personal information will be obtained only from employees. If it must be obtained from third parties, then employees must be informed beforehand and give consent.


In conclusion,

As an employer, you cannot afford to miss out on the changes that are happening in the labour market because the effects are costly.