The Bill aims to improve work-life balance and employees wellbeing overall by setting boundaries between professional and personal lives, which have proven to be easily blurred with the advances in digital technology and the rise of remote working.
If the Bill passes, Kenya will be the first country in Africa to regulate this right alongside many other countries worldwide.
The Bill grants employees the right to disconnect outside of work hours and requires employers to establish a policy on when, or if, an employee must respond to electronic communications. This policy should include:
- The circumstances under which employers may contact employees outside of their working hours,
- When the right to disconnect may be waived in case of emergencies,
- Guidelines on the use of digital communication by employees outside of their working hours, and
- The compensation granted for employees working outside of their working hours.
Article 27A. of the Amendment Bill creates an additional mandate for employers with greater than 10 employees to establish the policy in collaboration with employees representatives or their trade union.
If employers contact employees after their working hours and outside of what was agreed in the policy, employees may choose to not respond or respond and claim compensation for that time.
The law does not create specific rules or protocols with which an employer must comply but lays out the minimum guidelines for what must be included in negotiation.
One year of imprisonment or administrative fines of KES 500,000 may be imposed for an employer’s failure to comply with the legislation depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Employers should monitor the parliamentary process of the Bill to ensure appropriate and timely compliance with the final bill passed.