Balancing working hours: Equitable remuneration in Kenyan work environments

The issue of paying employees for extra hours of labour goes beyond legal considerations and speaks to the fundamentals of establishing a fair and equal workplace. [iStockphoto]

The ongoing discussion about paying employees for overtime remains relevant and important as the year draws to a close, especially given the Kenyan work setting. Kenyan labourers frequently struggle with long workdays, and the issue of whether they ought to receive just compensation for this additional time is becoming increasingly common.

Beyond just being a legal issue, overtime pay is an essential part of promoting justice and fairness in the workplace. Labour laws in Kenya clearly define overtime as any time worked in excess of the regular working hours. The way these regulations are actually applied though, varies frequently.

The demanding work schedules that many Kenyan employees endure—which go well beyond the typical 8-hour workday—are one of the main causes for concern. Employees may forgo personal time in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and services due to the pressure of meeting operational requirements and deadlines.

When faced with such circumstances, workers frequently question whether their extra work and commitment are truly valued and fairly compensated. Employee demotivation and burnout may arise from the imbalance between longer work hours and higher pay.

Acknowledging the toll that extended working hours take on employee well-being is crucial for employers. Beyond legal compliance, fair compensation for overtime serves as an investment in the physical and mental health of the workforce. In a country striving for economic growth, a motivated and healthy workforce is highly needed.

Fair compensation for overtime also complies with international Labor standards and best practices. It enhances the company's reputation in addition to drawing and keeping qualified professionals. Employers who respect their workers' time and effort are more likely to foster a culture of loyalty and commitment, which eventually boosts output.

Nonetheless, employers are not the only ones who bear some of the blame. Workers should speak out for fair compensation and express their concerns about overtime in an open manner. Starting a conversation between employers and employees can result in win-win situations like flexible work schedules or extra benefits.

The issue of paying employees for extra hours of labour goes beyond legal considerations and speaks to the fundamentals of establishing a fair and equal workplace. Employers in Kenya should understand that their employees are their most valuable resource and that paying them fairly for their labour is not only required by law but also by morality.

Let the future of work in Kenya be one in which the worth of each hour worked is recognised, valued and rewarded with fair compensation.

Arnold Ochieng is the General Manager of Workforce Africa, an HR solutions provider dealing with employee outsourcing, labour and casual outsourcing and outsourced labour services in 11 countries including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

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