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Bill protecting employees from job losses and pay cuts awaits Uhuru’s nod

BUSINESS
By Moses Nyamori | April 25th 2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Employees facing job losses and pay cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic are now clutching at President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision on a Bill for protection.

Uhuru is expected to assent to Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to protect employees from being sacked or subjected to a pay cut during the pandemic.

Members of the National Assembly on Wednesday night passed the Bill that amended the Employment Act so as to bar employers from sending their employees home due to a dip in business and revenues.

The Bill has proposed that employers should instead send their employees on unpaid leave in the event they are unable to pay salaries and wages due to the economic impact of the viral disease.

“Where the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the ability of an employer to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall not terminate a contract of service or dismiss an employee or coerce and employee to take a salary cut,” states the Bill.

It adds: “Despite sub-section (1), where an employer is unable to meet his obligations to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall permit an employee to take leave of absence without pay for the duration of the pandemic.”

Several companies have since effected salary cuts while others have announced plans to slash pay as the pandemic continues to ravage the economy.

The hospitality industry, which has suffered a major hit, has sent home most of its employees as hotels remain shut because of the viral disease.

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Uhuru’s assent to the Bill will be a major relief to millions of Kenyan workers, who are at the verge of losing their sources of livelihood due to the pandemic.

At the same time, the Senate has also indicated that it will proceed with its Pandemic Response and Management Bill (2020) that seeks to cushion Kenyans from the pandemic.

Some of the clauses of the Bill by Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 were, however, picked by the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee and incorporated in its Tax Law (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Yesterday, Committee Chairperson Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) said the team will proceed with public participation in pushing for the Bill.

“The National Assembly has copy-pasted a lot of ideas into the Bill that they have passed, and so as we forge on with our Bill it is a shot in the arm. They, however, drafted it poorly in certain aspects,” he said.

The Bill also provides that tenants who may not be able to meet their contractual obligations shall give notice, in writing, to their landlords or contracting party that they are not able to pay rent because of the pandemic.

“Upon receipt of a notice, the contracting parties shall enter into an agreement on how the tenant shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic,” the Bill reads in part.

Housing Cabinet secretary, with the approval of Parliament, shall provide measures to cushion landlords and tenants.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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