Understanding and Implementing the Kenyan Employment Act: A Practical Guide for HR Departments

Navigating the complexities of labor laws is a critical task for HR professionals. In Kenya, the Employment Act serves as a comprehensive guide to employment relationships, outlining the rights and duties of both employers and employees. This blog post aims to demystify the Act and provides a guide on how HR departments can implement its key provisions.

PART I – PRELIMINARY: Equality and Non-Discrimination in Employment

The Kenyan Employment Act emphasizes equal opportunity and the elimination of discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination, as described by the Act, may occur on various grounds, including race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, pregnancy, mental status, or HIV status. The Act also prohibits any form of forced labor.

HR departments must ensure that company policies align with these principles. A proactive approach, involving training and communication, can help promote a culture of respect and inclusion within the organization.

PART II – PROHIBITIONS: Preventing Workplace Harassment

The Act explicitly prohibits any form of sexual harassment in the workplace. It provides definitions and guidelines to identify and address such behavior. It is the responsibility of the HR department to ensure that these guidelines are understood and enforced. HR policies should define unacceptable behaviors, provide clear procedures for reporting harassment, and outline the consequences of such actions.

PART III – EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP: Contracts and Employment Particulars

The Act outlines the nature of the employment contract, whether oral or written. For work expected to last more than three months, a written contract is mandatory. This contract must include the job description, date of commencement, remuneration details, and terms and conditions of employment.

HR departments are responsible for preparing these contracts in line with the Act’s requirements. Any amendments to the contract should be communicated in writing and agreed upon by both parties.

PART IV – PROTECTION OF WAGES: Ensuring Fair Remuneration

The Act mandates that wages must be paid directly to the employee, in legal tender, and at regular intervals. Any deductions from the wages, such as taxes and social security contributions, should be clearly itemized and explained to the employee. HR departments should ensure that payroll practices comply with these guidelines.

PART V – TERMINATION AND DISMISSAL: Respecting Employees’ Rights

The Act specifies procedures for termination of employment, including notice periods and payment of final wages. HR departments should adhere to these guidelines to ensure a fair and respectful termination process. This includes providing a certificate of service and paying any outstanding remuneration, including accrued leave.

PART VI – SPECIAL CLASSES OF WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS: Catering to Unique Employment Situations

The Act also addresses unique employment situations, such as employment of young persons and foreign contracts of service. HR departments should be aware of these special provisions and ensure that they comply with them.


Finally, the Act details the roles and responsibilities of labor officers in enforcing the Act’s provisions. It provides guidelines for reporting violations and cooperating with labor officers during investigations. HR departments should establish procedures for such situations and ensure full cooperation during inspections.

In conclusion, the Kenyan Employment Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that aims to ensure fair and just conditions of employment. By understanding and implementing the Act’s provisions, HR departments can promote a workplace that respects employee rights and complies with national law.

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