A gazette notice by the Ministry of Labor stipulates new regulations of minimum wages for house helps and has been backdated from 1st May 2011. In the major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu the minimum wage will be Kshs7586 and Kshs7000 for other counties.
House allowance of 15% of salary
2 days rest every week
Annual leave with full salary
Pension on retirement
Penalty for those who do not comply
6 months imprisonment or a Kshs50,000 fine.
I find this ridiculous and unaffordable to majority Kenyans. Many Kenyans earn very low salaries and can only afford to pay house helps from Kshs2000. Imagine that Kshs7000 is nett salary of some people employed even in offices and are just struggling to pay that person they leave with their children. Many especially in the slums who cannot afford to pay a house help leave their children in day-cares that are now on the rise due to high cost of living. Many Kenyans would wish to pay as much as they can to the house helps who they leave in charge of their kids but cannot afford to do so.
May question is how will they implement this, will they send officers to every household to enforce the law? This also contradicts the fact that Kenya is a free market economy, where willing buyer willing seller principal applies. Under this rule the buyer and seller agree on terms, so for that reason employer (buyer) and employee (seller) can agree on affordable salary. They can also have a written contract just like other jobs.
What are the consequences?
In the event the government manages to enforce this law on Kenyans (which I doubt). We will resort to live like people in America and Europe, we will take our children to Day Care centers and do our work ourselves or get help from relatives. As a result unemployment and crime will rise. The gainers will be Nursery schools and day cares and in fact it may be cheaper to pay a day care something like Kshs10,000/term than to pay house helps this Kshs7000 per month which is like Kshs21,000 for three months. Some are even cheaper depending on where someone lives, people who live in the slums pay 50/pay. So some other middle class estates can charge minimum 100/day which is much cheaper than paying a house help under the new salary scale.
To implement the ministry of labor will need to hire more officers to move from house to house and arrest those who don’t comply. We all know what that will lead to, more corruption. They will threaten people and ask for bribes. Majority of Kenyans are faced with numerous financial difficulties due to luck of jobs, low salaries, high cost of living and it is a fact we are still in the 3rd World, so unless the Government will force all employers to increase salaries (if they will afford), this law is absurd in Kenya.