Minimum Wage in Kenya - Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a separate legislation relating to minimum wages in Kenya?

The Labour Institutions Act, No.12 of 2007 provides for Minimum Wages. Part VI of the Act consists of the wages council and the fixing of wages and terms and conditions of service. Labour Institutions, provide for their functions, powers and duties and other matters related to them. This part empowers the Minister of Labour to establish the Wages Councils. Generally there are 2 wages known as a general wages council and an agricultural wages council (Section 43 (1)). This part also constitutes a wages board (Section 43 (2)). The Wage Councils and Boards are empowered to investigate remuneration and terms and conditions of employment in various sectors and report the findings and recommendations to the Minister. Based on the findings the Minister is empowered by the same Legislation after considering the recommendations to make a Wage Order determining the minimum wage and other conditions of employment for employees in any sector and area of the country. The Regulation of Wages Orders (for general and agricultural industry) are then published by Government Gazette (Section 46) setting the Minimum Wages and conditions of employment (Section 47).

Do one or more minimum wages exist that is/are determined by law?

In addition, to the general wages council and an agricultural wages council, Section 43 (2) provides for establishment of sectoral wages council if the Minister in consultation with the board and the general wages councils reckons that employees in these sectors will be at a better position. On publication, the wages order sets the minimum rates of remuneration.

At what level are minimum wages determined?

The General wages order under Section 46 (1) (a) applies to general workers and is based on region and occupation. The Agricultural wages order applies to workers in agricultural sector and is based on occupation and skill level. This is in addition to other sectoral wages order for workers in those specific sectors. Also Section 43 (3) mentions consideration of wages council to fix minimum wages at national level and for different sectors.

In case of weekly/monthly minimum age, are they based on any fixed number of hours?

The general working hours are 52 per week, but the normal working hours usually consist of 45 hours of work per week, that is Monday to Friday 8 hours each and 5 hours on Saturday under the special Orders for different sectors subsidiary to the Regulations of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act, Cap 229. Collective agreements may modify the working hours, but generally provide for weekly working hours of 40 up to 52 hours per week. Under the Employment Act, Section 27 (2) every employee is entitled to at least one rest day in every period of seven days. In many sectors the regular rest-day may not be the Sunday, but another day of the week.

Are governmental bodies, employer and/or trade union representatives involved in minimum wages setting?

The Labour Institution Act, Sections 43 (1) and (2), allows the Minister of Labour to establish wage councils which gives in proposals on minimum wages and conditions of employment. Further Sections 46 (1), (2) (a) and 47(1) (a) empowers the Minister to publish wage orders which sets the minimum rates of remuneration. The wage councils and boards are tripartite bodies involving representatives from Federation of Employers, Organization of Trade Union and Government and chaired by an independent legal person - Section 44(3). Section 43(5)(b) allows wage council to consist of trade union representatives who are also party to the recommendations made to the Minister for fixation of minimum wages (Section 44(3).

How are upratings (adjustments) of minimum wages decided upon?

Upratings in Minimum wages may be set by collective agreements between employers and Trade Unions (Labour Relation Act, Section 57 (1) and (2)). Once such collective agreements are registered by the Industrial Court they become enforceable and binding to all involved parties for the period of the agreement (Section 59). In addition, Section 43(5) mentions that adjustments are done by the Minister of Labour after considering the recommendations from the tripartite Wage Boards as provided by the Labour Institutions Act, although the Minister still is empowered to make other adjustments without considering the recommendation of the councils.

What are the components of minimum wages?

Both minimum wages, either set by the Minister of Labour publishing wages orders, or by collective bargaining agreements, are fixed for a period of time.

How frequently is the fixed component of minimum wage updated?

The Labour Institutions Act, 2007 does not provide for the frequency of updating minimum wage. However Part VI of the Labour Institutions Act empowers the Minister of Labour to fix and update the minimum wages provided in the wages order (section 48(1).

What is/are the yardstick/s on which minimum wage upratings are based?

Section 44 (5) of the Labour Institutions Act, 2007 provides that in the performance of its functions a wages council shall take into consideration (for recommendation) factors affecting both employers and employees. For employers, economic factors considered include; requirements of economic development, productivity levels, desirability of attaining and maintaining a high level of employment and the need to encourage investment. Others include; ability of the employer to carry on their businesses successfully, the operation of small, medium and micro-enterprise, the cost of living, the alleviation of poverty, the minimum subsistence level and the likely impact of proposed conditions of employment on current employment or the creation of employment. For the employees, emphasis is put on their needs and that of their families, the general level of wages in the country, cost of living, social security benefits and the relative living standards of other social groups. Section 44(5)(a)(b) mentions the general level of wages in the country, social benefits and the relative standard of living of the other social groups, cost of living. Economic factors and economic development as well.

What is National Poverty line?

Click here to know the national poverty line in context with Minimum Wage, living wages and actual wages. Select the currency (Euro or national currency) to know national poverty line.

What is the incidence of minimum wages(s) in the national labour force (wage earners only)?

Not applicable.

How is minimum wages compliance regulated?

The regulation of Minimum Wage Compliance-together with provision of the Acts is done via Labour Administration and Inspection Department in the Ministry of Labour. Part V of the Labour Institution Act, No. 12 0f 2007 provides for the appointment of a Commissioner of Labour, a Director of Employment and a Medical Officer and empowers them for the purpose of the Act. (Section 35 (1) (a)) In the Act the Labour Officers are empowered to monitor or enforce compliance with any labour law including Minimum Wage Order and other terms and conditions of employment(Section 35 (1) (a)).

Which legal sanctions can be applied in compliance is lacking?

Minimum Wage Compliance is regulated via Section 61 of Labour Institution Act, and Section 87 (1) of the Employment Act which stipulate that a person who disobeys any provision of the Acts which includes failing to adhere to guidelines on minimum wages and conditions of employment is a criminal offence-and shall be liable to penalty of KES 50,000 or 3 months imprisonment or both, together with payment of the amount that is due the employee (difference between minimum wage and the actual wages-Section 48 (3)).

Are employer and/or trade union representatives involved in compliance procedures?

According to the Labour Institution Act, No. 12 0f 2007, compliance is administered and enforced by the Administration and Inspection by the labour officers (Commissioner of Labour, a Director of Employment and a Medical Officer) who are empowered for the purpose of the Act.

To whom/where can individuals complain, if they think they are earning less than minimum wage?

Section 16 of the Employment Act, 2007 provides for an individual complaining about the wages to file a complaint with the labour officer and this complaint will be considered as a complaint filed under Section 87. Section 87 provides that besides fines or imprisonment to non compliance to Minimum wage, the employee is granted payment of the amount that is due to him. Section 49 of the Labour Institutions Act, 2007 Notwithstanding any provision of any written law, a labour officer may institute proceedings on behalf of and in the name of an employee for the recovery of a sum due from an employer to an employee by reason of the failure of the employer comply to.