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Adopting parents to get leave

By Frankline Sunday | Mar 31st 2021 | 3 min read

Parents who are in the process of adopting children will now be eligible for a month of leave from work. 

This is according to new amendments to the Employment Act signed yesterday by President Uhuru Kenyatta that seeks to give parents enough time to make the necessary arrangements. 

“The Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to amend the Employment Act, No. 11 of 2007 to afford a one-month pre-adoptive leave with full pay to parents who apply for the adoption of children,” explains a brief memorandum on the Bill.     

Parents going through an adoption process will now notify their employers of the intention at least 14 days before the adoption date together with relevant adoption documents. 

“The pre-adoptive leave granted to an adoptive parent shall guarantee such adoptive parents an uninterrupted opportunity to make all the necessary arrangements that may be required before the adoptive parent takes full custody and responsibility over the adopted child,” explains the new law proposed by Gilgil MP Martha Wangari. 

An earlier version of the law had proposed female employees get three consecutive months of paid leave, while male employees would have been entitled to two-weeks.   

Adoption has traditionally been a contentious issue in the country with the government seeking to streamline the legislation to reduce the burden on adopting parents as well as protect the welfare of minors. 

In 2019, the government announced an immediate ban on the adoption of Kenyan children by foreign nationals following a Cabinet meeting, directing the Labour and Social Protection Ministry to formulate a policy to regulate adoption of children by foreign nationals.

The announcement came a few weeks after Kenyan authorities took a three-year-old from an American couple named as the legal guardians, in a high-profile case that grabbed international headlines. The child was later reunited with the parents following discussions between the parents and the Child Welfare Society.  

The child was later reunited with the parents following discussions between the parents and the Child Welfare Society.  

Data from the Judiciary indicates 104 adoption reports were prepared and submitted to the courts in the year ended June 2020, down from 355 reports in 2019 with the decrease attributed to the moratorium on inter-country adoptions.    Uhuru, however, declined to assent to provisions in the Bill relating to surrogate parents due to the lack of a legal framework in Kenya to govern surrogacy.    

The Employment (Amendment) Act 2019 signed into law yesterday also provides for mandatory three-month maternity leave for female employees with full pay. 

“On expiry of a female employee’s maternity leave, the female employee shall have the right to return to the job which she held immediately prior to her maternity leave or to a reasonably suitable job on terms and conditions not less favourable than those which would have applied had she not been on maternity leave,” reads Section 29 of the Law.  

This is expected to cushion female employees who face challenges getting back to the workplace after having children. 

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