Teachers reject NSSF deductions, tell court remissions breach a third rule

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Secretary General Akelo Misori. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Teachers are walking home with more than one-third of their salaries retained by the government as deductions towards National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

The grave revelation that there are teachers who are barely making ends meets owing to excessive deductions by Kenya Kwanza Government is contained in a case filed by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Union Teachers (KUPPET) before the High Court.

KUPPET has moved to court arguing that its members are now contributing to two pension schemes- NSSF and Public Service Superannuation Scheme (PSSS).

The union argues that under PSSS, teachers are being forced to contribute 7.5 per cent of their salary. Under NSSF, they are required to pay 6 per cent of their salaries while the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) tops up an equal amount.

In addition, the union in its case filed by lawyer Linet Maiyo, teachers are also being asked to pay 1.5 per cent of their salaries for the Housing Levy.

According to Akelo Misori-led union, it is unfair, and against the Employment Act to have teachers contribute to two mandatory pension schemes and give away more than a third of their monthly salaries.

“The petitioner (KUPPET) further avers that its members are being forced to be members of two pension schemes both of which are run by the government for the same purpose which is to provide the members with pension benefits. There is no plausible reason and or explanation whatsoever as to why the Petitioner’s members should be subjected to two mandatory pension schemes by the government,” the union argues in its court papers filed on Friday.

KUPPET has sued Attorney General, NSSF board, TSC, and National Assembly. At the same time, it has listed PSSS as an interested party in the case.

A teachers’ union has moved to court to challenge the government’s decision to deduct National Social Security Fund (NSSF) from its members’ salaries.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Union Teachers (KUPPET) argues that it is illegal and unfair for the government to deduct pension money from teachers without registration and being members of NSSF.

According to Maiyo, teachers should not be subjected to the NSSF scheme as they were never consulted. At the same time, she argues that the mandatory nature of the scheme is against teachers’ right to choose their preferred pension scheme.

“The petitioner’s members are already subscribed to a different pension scheme offering better returns compared to the pension scheme that they are being forced into by the Respondents. The petitioner’s members’ right to choose to belong to a competitive pension scheme has been violated by being forced to join the scheme under the NSSF Act ,” argues Maiyo.

In his supporting affidavit, Misori argues that teachers being public servants were automatically enrolled in PSSS.

He says that after NSSF Act came into force, the union moved to court and won the case that the Act was unconstitutional.

However, Misori states that the Court of Appeal set aside the orders issued by the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC).

According to him, the Principal Secretary, Office of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action issued a directive that employers should remit their employees' deductions to the social security scheme.

“The said letter by the Principal Secretary was erroneous, misconceived, and misinformed as it stated that the Court of Appeal had held the NSSF Act to be constitutional, a fact that could not be further from the truth. It also misinterpreted the provisions of the impugned Act on the contribution by employers and employees,” argues Misori.

According to him, PSSS exempts its members from contributing to NSSF.

“These deductions coupled with the other mandatory deduction including those made to the NSSF causes the Petitioner’s members’ net pay to go below the statutory limit of 1/3 as set out under section 19(3) of the Employment Act, therefore putting them at the risk of disciplinary proceedings from their employer,” he claims.

In the meantime, KUPPET is seeking orders to bar NSSF from demanding contributions from its members, pending the hearing and determination of the case.

The union also wants the court to find that it is illegal to have teachers contribute to NSSF. At the same time, it is seeking a declaration that the government has violated teachers’ rights by requiring a deduction of more than a third of their monthly salaries.

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