The government has published new regulations that raise the minimum pay for domestic workers, in a move that will hit hard most households in urban centres.
Business Today reports that the regulations set the minimum monthly salaries an employer can pay a domestic worker in every major town, compulsory weekly off days and overtime compensation.
Labour Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo has in a legal notice granted domestic workers in Nairobi a 12% pay increase, effectively pushing their monthly salary to Ksh10,954 from Ksh9,781 last year.
The workers are also allowed a mandatory weekly 48- hour break. Failure to grant the break leaves the employer with the punitive option of paying the househelp at the rate of Ksh527 per day or an additional Ksh4,216 a month.
That, together with the basic salary of Ksh10,954, means domestic workers who do not get two days off a week will earn not less than Ksh15,170 a month – nearly matching the pay of many low-cadre workers in government and the private sector.
These rates also apply to those working in Kisumu and Mombasa while those in other urban centres will be required to get Ksh10,107 monthly. An employer who contravenes the new rules risks serving a jail term of three months or a fine of Ksh50,000 or both.
Regulations setting minimum pay for domestic workers were introduced in 2011 to align the country with the stringent International Labour Organisation (ILO) proposals, aimed at improving the working conditions for those employed in the informal economy.
Most households pay domestic workers between Ksh3 and Ksh5,000. The bulk of the workers are drawn from rural areas and have only basic education or are illiterate. Employers will also be required to make contributions to the statutory pension (NSSF) scheme and medical cover (NHIF) of Ksh200 and ksh400 per month respectively.