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Parliament rejects bill criminalising employer-employee calls past working hours

The National Assembly has rejected a bill that sought to make it a criminal offense for employers to call their employees after working hours.

MPs questioned the legality of the Employment Amendment Bill 2022 sponsored by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei claiming that it not only criminalized a civil contract between an employer and employee but also created legal minefields that would end up contradicting Kenya’s labour policies.

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The Employment Amendment Bill 2022 sponsored by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei proposed employees be granted the right to disconnect from their employer effectively making it criminal for an employer to call their employees past working hours.

The Senator argued that employees should have a right to disconnect in the digital age and to address the rising number of employee burnout cases.

Having drawn sharp criticism from the Federation of Kenya Employers, the bill was procedurally submitted to the National Assembly for debate.

When it came up for debate in the second reading, the Labour standing committee set the stage questioning the rationale of its passage in the Senate.

Kangema MP Peter Kihungi who is a member of the Labour committee and the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chair Gitonga Murugara led the chorus of opposition to the bill accusing the drafter of the bill of seeking to criminalize a civil agreement between employers and employees through the proposal to fine violators of the proposal 500,000 shillings.

Legislators say the legal minefields in the bill not only exposes employers but is likely to disrupt the labour market.

FKE in its opposition to the bill claimed the proposed amendments would negate the essence of managing enterprises freely to meet the demands and challenges posed by the market.

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John Jacob Kioria
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