Kenya: State Reveals Number of Jobs Lost Due to Covid-19

27 September 2020

The government has put the number of those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, in both the formal and informal sectors, at 36,163.

In a report tabled before the National Assembly Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Labour and Social Services said, however, that the figure could be higher since most people who lost their jobs did not report the development to the ministry.

The report indicates that the most affected sectors include hospitality and manufacturing.

According to the report, 3,022 people in the manufacturing industry have lost their jobs while the agriculture industry has sent home 2,965 people.

A total of 3,991 workers in the agriculture sector, 1,920 in hospitality and 2,071 in horticulture and floriculture are on unpaid leave.

Many complaints

As of September, the ministry had received a total of 208 labour complaints from the public relating to unpaid leave, unfair termination, pending work injury compensation, challenges in labour migration, and non-remittance of statutory deductions by employers to bodies such as the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

The ministry also said it has received 961 complaints from county labour offices, 321 of which have been resolved directly and others referred to investigative agencies.

The report indicates that a total of 4,983 redundancy cases by employees have been resolved and are due for compensation.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui also told the committee that a total of 4,105 migrant workers in 34 countries, who have been in distress due to the effects of Covid-19, have been brought back home.

Out of these, 1,407 migrant workers have been repatriated from the United Arab Emirates, 528 to Saudi Arabia and 775 to Qatar.

Welfare funds

The ministry said it is in the process of establishing the Kenya's migrant workers welfare fund to enhance their protection and offset expenses associated with the plight of workers in distress in foreign countries.

"To enhance the engagement of Kenyan migrant workers in the socio-economic development of the country, a return and reintegration programme as well as a centre are being established," Mr Chelugui said.

The ministry warned that more Kenyans are on the verge of losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

"More workers are likely to lose their livelihoods while those on indefinite unpaid leave are likely to join the pool of unemployed workers," Mr Chelugui said.

The CS said there is a need to cushion workers who have lost their jobs through situations which are not of their fault or that of their employers.

"The State department proposes the establishment of an unemployment insurance fund as provided for under section 40 of Employment Act, 2007 to provide short term relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of illness," the CS said.

Labour laws

Mr Chelugui also told the committee that there is a need to review labour laws as the existing ones do not provide any regulations to guide employers and employees during public emergencies or outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Covid-19.

"The emerging working conditions such as working from home, flexible working hours, unpaid leave and other new forms of employment relationships are not provided for under the current labour laws," the CS said.

"The laws will be reviewed to provide guidelines on management of issues relating to employment contracts, and employer and employee rights and obligations in order to provide practical ways to resolve conflicts between employers and workers," he told MPs

The ministry also said many other workers who have lost their sources of livelihood and are not unionised, making it difficult to engage meaningfully with their employers.

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