Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The President's leadership needed to Build Kenya's Culture

On Monday last week, President Kenyatta was heckled in Migori. Well I don’t mean to delve into the politics of the incident. However it emerged that a section of the crowd may have been paid by a member of Parliament to disrupt the President’s address. Now this is the subject of our sharing today.

One question that many people have struggled to answer is how to transform Kenya. What will it take to have a just country with peace, love and harmony among its citizens as they individually and collectively pursue the development agenda. How can we eradicate corruption, tribal animosity, injustice, poverty and disease in Kenya? How can Kenya cease from being a nation of haves and have-nots to one where all people can access opportunities equally and fairly?

I believe that the solution rests in redefining our culture. Article 10 of the Constitution has Kenya’s national values and principles of governance. They include patriotism, national unity, rule of law, participation of the people, human dignity, social justice, inclusiveness, integrity, transparency, accountability and sustainable development among others. This is the closest the law comes to defining our culture. However the most important question is whether these values are practiced in our day to day lives. Do we act justly and treat others with dignity? Are we transparent and accountable in our undertakings?

A quick glance at how we engage reveals that Kenya is far from living by these values. We are rarely our brother’s keeper. The ‘me-myself and I’ syndrome has consumed us fully well. This is the issue the President Kenyatta should put more emphasis. The President should consider using his position and authority to re-define Kenya’s culture. This task has been largely left to the political class who until now continue to hold the nation at ransom. 

The President, as he has committed to, should continue rising above partisan politics and help Kenya define itself differently. This is now even about President Kenyatta’s re-election in 2017, it is about leaving a lasting legacy that will be remembered by generations to come.
President Kenyatta has done well in positioning Kenya as an investment hub and diplomatic pillar in Africa. However his real legacy will be in leaving a more united country where your name, tribe and place of origin do not matter. 

While the President’s father heralded Independence from colonial masters, President Kenyatta must herald liberation from tribalism, corruption and partisan politics. In doing so the President will help Kenyan’s define their culture that will be resident in their hearts and minds and felt in all undertakings.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why SMEs need Labour Law Due Dilligence

One of the vexing issues for any employer in the Kenyan economy is employee management. By this I mean managing the process of hiring and retaining employees who make a positive contribution towards realizing the goals of the company. Large corporations are largely affected by issues like strikes and go slows and the government has also been vexed by strikes in the education and health sectors.
Inevitably a large part of employee management is tackled through labour laws. The law provides on how an employee is hired, the employment contract, terms and benefits and cessation of employment. A brief highlight of the key laws is important.

The employment Act has provisions that regulate the relationship between employer and employee including the minimum terms and conditions of employment such as the terms of an employment contract, appointment, benefits including leave, termination and others. The Employment Act also has provisions on resolution of disputes between parties to an employment contract. The Labour Relations Act on the other hand has provisions governing the registration and regulation of trade unions. The Act allows collective bargaining and therein provides for the manner of negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreements. It also has provisions on dispute resolution between trade unions and employers.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Work injury Benefits Act have provisions aimed at protecting employees while at work. They provide for measures geared towards making the work environment safer and has provisions on adequate compensation in the event of work injuries. The Industrial Court Act on the other hand establishes the Industrial Court, pursuant to the Constitution. The Court has jurisdiction to resolve labour disputes between employers and employees. 

There are a host of other legislations that affect employer-employee relations such as the National Social Security Fund Act. Subsidiary legislations such as the annual minimum wage will also influence this relationship. Policy measures by the government in various spheres such as immigration will impact the relationship. Lastly as County Governments enact more legislation, some laws are expected to impact the employment relationship.

On the above analysis, it is important to have Small and Medium Enterprises invest in labour law due diligence and this is why. SMEs normally start operations with a minimum work force who are easily managed. In most cases a human resource department is not considered necessary, it’s an increased cost. As SMEs grow and thrive, employee-relations dynamics also evolve in a larger magnitude. Employees will feel entitled to a larger piece of the pie if profits are growing. At the same time an employer cum entrepreneur is also thinking of how to grow the company and reinvest earning into the business so that the company has a firm foundation for continued growth.

Due diligence is taking necessary steps to comply with the law. Labour law due diligence is therefore important since SMEs need to understand the laws that affect them in the present and those that