An Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which prohibits employers in Kenya from calling or assigning tasks to employees after office hours has generated mixed reactions in the country.
The bill was proposed by a member of the nation’s parliament, Nandi Senator, Samson Cherargei.
The lawmaker noted that the Bill’s main purpose is to ensure that employees enjoy the right of having their personal time and privacy respected. It is also aimed at addressing increased employee burnout.?
The Bill provides that an employee can disregard calls or any other form of communication such as email or text from their employer to perform some duties after the working hours.
“Where an employer contacts an employee during the period when there is no mutually agreed out of work hours, the employee shall not be obliged to respond,” it reads in part.
The Bill defines “out of work hours” as hours other than those agreed upon between an employer and an employee in the contract of employment.
“This Bill seeks to address increased employee burnout. Digital connectivity has also been noted to be slowly eroding leisure time for employees hence affecting their work life balance,” Cherargei said in his justification for the Bill.?
Any employer who violates the law if eventually passed commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding KSh 500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.
Reacting, the nation’s Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, through Cabinet Secretary, Hon Simon Chelugui, raised some reservations concerning the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Chelugui however, observed that some of its provisions “will aid in bridging the gap in current labour laws.”
“The Bill, if adopted, will pose a challenge in fostering harmonious relationships. For instance, employees would be exposed to victimization and mistreatment at work whenever they disconnect,” Hon Chelugui observed.
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