The High Court in Nairobi has stopped Kenya Power from undertaking a lifestyle audit on its employees.
The planned exercise is part of wider reforms aimed at reforming the power distributor and the industry at large.
The court ruled that the vetting as has been envisioned by Kenya Power infringes on the rights of staff, particularly the right to privacy and is also against fair labour practices.
The firm last November ordered employees to make declarations of their wealth and that of their close relations.
The Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers’ Union (Ketawu) moved to court to stop the process, noting that the process was intrusive in asking for details of their spouses, children and parents as well as their close business associates.
The court noted that the process would violate the rights of third parties who were not required to give consent to Kenya Power staff in making the declaration.
The court yesterday, however, said Kenya Power could vet its employees within the confines of the law.
Kenya Power had a staff headcount of 10,177 employees as of June 2021, to whom it paid Sh16.9 billion in salaries and other benefits, according to its annual report.
The Leadership and Integrity Act requires government employees to declare their income, assets and liabilities, a process overseen by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
The court also noted that the employees were not consulted by the firm before it arrived at the process of undertaking the vetting.
“A permanent injunction is issued against the respondent (Kenya Power) from conducting the planned vetting to persons who are members of the petitioner (Ketawu),” reads the ruling in part.
“The respondent is allowed to vet within the law as provided for,” it adds.
Ketawu had in November obtained temporarily court orders stopping the lifestyle audits, pending the hearing of the case.
Kenya Power had then instructed all employees to provide the details of their wealth as well as information on their associates to a team formed to undertake an audit on their lifestyles and flag any questionable or unexplained wealth.
In addition to the details of their families and close associates, the staff members had also been asked to submit details of their companies as well as firms run by their next of kin, a list of their assets, including property and cars and six-month bank statements for themselves and their spouses.
The company had embarked on the employee vetting process on the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on the Review of Power Purchase Agreements.
The task force was formed last year in March to look into modalities of how the country can reduce the cost of power.