What Kenyan law says about sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment at the workplace remains a key challenge in the employment sector. [File, Standard]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently aired an expose about Kericho tea plantation managers allegedly coercing female subordinate staff members to engage in sex with them in exchange for contract renewals and better employment terms.

The investigative report went viral, with Kenyans raising questions about the judicial system's response to sexual harassment cases involving senior and junior employees.

In 2011, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) published a report that stated that sexual harassment was a serious problem in Kenyan workplaces.

Section 6 of the Employment Act says that a worker is sexually harassed if the employer, its representative or a co-worker requests for any form of sexual favour in order to get preferential treatment at the workplace.

The employer can also threaten detrimental treatment or jeorpadise the affected employee's future at the organisation.

Sexual harassment in workplaces can be in the form of written or spoken language, visual material of sexual nature and showing physical behaviour of sexual nature.

The Employment Act stipulates that an employer must have a sexual harassment policy, irrespective of the number of employees at the firm.

The Act further states that every employee is entitled to employment that is free of sexual harassment, and the employer shall take steps to ensure that no employee is subjected to such infringements.

In addition to having a sexual harassment policy, the employer must ensure that the policy is implemented.

The Employment Act says the alleged victim has to provide evidence to prove the allegations of sexual harassment.

Lack of consent by the alleged victim is critical in proof of sexual harassment.

Under Kenya's Sexual Offences Act, a convicted person could be jailed for at least three years, or fined Sh100,000, or both for engaging in sexual harassment.