KENYA: GOVERNMENT REINTRODUCES BILL TO GIVE EMPLOYEES THE ‘RIGHT TO DISCONNECT’
Last year we published an article on the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (the “2021 Bill”). The 2021 Bill sought to provide employees the right to not be contacted by their employer outside of contractual working hours. However, when Kenya held its general elections in August 2022, the 2021 Bill lapsed (Kenya’s legislative process is that when Parliament breaks for a general election, all outstanding bills lapse). The new administration can opt to reintroduce any lapsed legislation if it so wishes.
In this instance, the new administration has published the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (the “ 2022 Bill”). The 2022 Bill remains largely unchanged from the 2021 version save that the legislature has further narrowed the exemption to the right to disconnect. Particularly, the 2021 Bill permitted an employer to contact an employee outside of working hours to address an emergency. The 2022 Bill has provided further wording that clarifies that the emergency must relate to an issue within the responsibility of the employee.
The fact that the 2022 Bill has been reintroduced to Parliament indicates that there is political will to have the Bill passed into law. If passed, policies and employment contracts would need to be reviewed taking into account the employee’s right to disconnect.