THE NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AUTHORITY.
The National Employment Authority (NEA) has recently made headlines through its notices published in the local dailies directing employers to file prescribed annual returns. This directive caught many employers off guard with few being familiar with the Authority or the annual returns requirement.
The first question begs, what is the NEA? The NEA is a state agency established in April, 2016 by an Act of Parliament (the National Employment Authority Act 2016) which effectively provided the legal framework and mandates for its operations.
It provides for a comprehensive institutional framework for: employment management; enhancement of employment promotion interventions; and increasing access to employment by the youth, minorities and marginalized groups and for connected purposes. The NEA was however only launched and became operative in May 2019.
Employer obligations under the Act
At present, the Act does not state the obligations imposed on employers but the NEA, through the exercise of its mandate under the Act (which includes employment management), has directed that all employers should submit notification of vacancies, notification of filing and abolition of posts and notification of termination of employment in accordance with the provisions of file Section 76-81 of the Employment Act 2007.
In addition, employers are required to keep information on the name, age, sex, occupation, date of employment, nationality and educational level of each employee and file an annual return for each calendar year ending 31st December to be sent to the NEA not later than 31st January of the following year. Employers should comply using a template available on the NEA website http://www.nea.go.ke.
This directive does not however apply to all employers and pursuant to Section 76 of the Employment Act, only employers with over 25 employers are targeted.
Going forward, it is expected that now that NEA has become operational, it will issue more directives and we should expect to have more comprehensive regulations passed in pursuance of its mandate to manage the employment sector more vigorously.
IMMIGRATION TO KENYA UNDER A WORK PERMIT
Since 2018, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Interior & Co-ordination of National Government has issued numerous directives meant to streamline the management of foreign nationals working in Kenya. The most recent directive, issued in July 2018 requires all foreigners seeking work permits to await issuance of the permit before traveling to take up employment in Kenya.
Previously, foreign nationals would apply for a work permit as part of their visa application and using this visa would thereafter travel to Kenya as they awaited the issuance of the work permit. Under the new directive however, no foreign national seeking a work permit will be allowed to travel to Kenya before the work permit application is successful.
Employers should therefore organize themselves early to ensure that work permits for their foreign employees are issued to before the employees are required to start working. This will enable them to travel into the country without complications.
In addition, applications for renewal of work permits should be made months prior to the expiry of the permit to ensure one is issued before the expiry of the original work permit. Failure to do so will require the foreigner to travel to their home country and await issuance of the work permit to be able to come back to work in the country.
GOOD GOVERNANCE PRACTICES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS SCHEMES
The Retirement Benefits (Good Governance Practices in the Management of Retirement Benefits Schemes) Guidelines, 2018 provides the guidelines which are applicable to all schemes regulated by the Retirement Benefits Authority (the “Authority”). They mainly provide for the duties, responsibilities and expected behaviour of sponsors, members, trustees and service providers in the conduct of the affairs of the scheme.
The Guidelines require the scheme to among other things: ensure that the scheme develops a policy on conflict of interest; the scheme should have a comprehensive code of conduct; the scheme trustees should obtain professional advice for the effective running of the scheme; and, the scheme trustees should ensure that there is effective and fair member representation and participation in the scheme.
The Authority is empowered to regularly assess a scheme’s implementation of the guidelines. The scheme may be required to take remedial action to address its material deficiencies in its governance policies.