Understanding Employment Norms in Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide
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Hiring in Kenya? Read on to find out the employment norms (like taxes, payroll and benefits) and EOR (Employer on Record) norms in Kenya?

Employment Norms in Kenya?

Kenya has a diverse workforce and offers various employment opportunities across different sectors. The Kenyan labor market is governed by a set of employment laws that outline the rights and obligations of both employees and employers. Both employers and employees need to be familiar with these laws to ensure fair and lawful employment practices.

General Information:

  • The Kenyan currency is Kenyan Shilling (KES).
  • Nairobi is the capital of Kenya
  • Swahili and English are the official languages of Kenya. Documentation can be in Swahili and English
  • As of 2022, the GDP of Kenya was reported to be 387.62 Billion USD
Kenyan labor laws cover minimum wage, working hours, leave entitlements, and termination of employment.
Kenya map

Table of Contents

  • Agreements
  • Onboarding Process
  • Visa
  • Minimum Wage
  • Payroll Cycle
  • Annual Bonus
  • Health Benefits
  • Working Hours and Overtime
  • Leaves
  • Social Security
  • Taxes for Employers
  • Taxes for Employees
  • Probation
  • Termination
  • Severance Pay
  • Employees or Contractors
  • Final Words


The Law of Contract Act, of 2002 governs employment contracts in Kenya. The language of the contract should either be in Swahili or English. If an employee doesn't understand these two languages, the contract needs to be explained to the employee in a language they can understand. It may last for a set or arbitrary amount of time. Within two months of the employee's start date, the employer must provide the employee with an employment particulars statement, which is a set of details about the employee and the terms of the engagement.
An employee's employment particulars must include the following details:
  • The employee's name, age, gender, and permanent address.
  • Name of the employer
  • Start date of employment
  • Job description of the position
  • Format and timeframe of the contract
  • Location and working hours
  • Compensation
  • Information on any benefits provided by law
  • The period during which compensation is paid
  • Any other important information
Onboarding Process

Onboarding Process

The employee onboarding process typically involves the following steps:
  • An offer letter and employment contract
  • Verification and documentation
  • Orientation and training
  • Introduction to team and stakeholders
  • Provision of tools and resources
  • Performance management and feedback
  • Ongoing support


Kenya has 6 types of Visas:
  • Single-Entry Visa- Issued for a single entry, to people whose nationalities need visas to enter Kenya for work, travel, medical treatment, or other purposes.
  • Transit Visa- Issued for a period, not to exceed 72 hours, to individuals whose nationalities require a visa to enter Kenya and who are making a connection through Kenya to other locations. There is no requirement to obtain a transit visa for those who have to catch the connecting flights without leaving the airport.
  • Multi-Entry Visa- Issued for multiple entries, to individuals whose nationalities require a visa to enter Kenya for purposes such as business, tourism, family visits, medical care, or other purposes.
  • 5yr Multiple Entry Visa- United States citizens who need a visa to enter Kenya for travel, business, or other purposes will be issued a five-year multiple-entry visa.
  • East Africa Tourist Visa- This joint tourist visa is given to tourists going to and from Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.
  • Courtesy Visa- This visa is given to people with diplomatic, official, or service passports who are entering the country to carry out official business or tasks. It is also given to people with ordinary passports in cases when the director general deems it appropriate out of respect for other nations. It may be given for a single entry, a transit entry, or many entries.

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Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage

As of May 2022, Kenya's minimum wage is 15120.00 KES per month.
Payroll Cycle

Payroll Cycle

In Kenya, employers typically pay employees on the monthly basis.
Annual Bonus

Annual Bonus

In Kenya, there is no provision for paying 13th-month pay or annual bonus. It depends upon the employers they can give it if they wish to.
Health Benefits

Health Benefits

  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity Leave
  • Parental Leave in case of adoption
  • Retirement benefits
  • Health Insurance under NHIF
  • Social Security under NSSF
  • Housing Allowance/ Housing accommodation
  • Clean water supply for housing accommodation
  • Food, if agreed upon during the contract
  • Medical help for illness
Working Hours and Overtime

Working Hours and Overtime

  • Work hours:The typical workweek consists of 5 days and 40 hours a week, starting from Monday to Friday. Although the working hours may be modified by collective agreements, they normally call for 40 to 52 hours of labor per week.
  • Break:Meal and rest breaks during working hours are not strongly indicated in Kenyan law. Every employee is allowed a minimum of one day of rest every seven days.
  • Overtime: On weekdays, overtime is paid at a rate of 1.5 times the employee's regular hourly rate; on weekends, it is paid at a rate of 2 times their regular salary.


Sick Leaves

  • Employees are entitled to 30 working days of paid sick leave after two consecutive months of employment with the company, followed by 15 working days of paid sick leave after twelve consecutive months of employment.
  • Depending on the employee's category, certain employers may offer a minimum of 14 days of sick leave.

Paternity leaves

  • Female employees are entitled to three months of paid leave. At this time, the employee pays their full salary. It is not allowed to extend maternity leave.
  • Male employees have a right to two weeks of paid paternity leave. During this time, the employee will be paid 100% of their average salary, and the employer has to pay this salary. The employees are not allowed to extend their leave.

Annual leaves

  • Employees are entitled to 21 days of paid leave per year after working for a company for a full year.

Other leaves

  • Compassionate leave: Employees can apply for compassionate leave, in case of any misfortune, bereavement or hospitalization of the family members, dependent on them.
  • Adoption leaves: Adoptive parents can take a leave the same as given to birth parents. They also get one month of paid leave before the adoption. Employees have to ensure that they inform the employer 14 days before.

Public Holidays (for the Calendar year 2023)

  • New Year's Day (1st January )
  • Good Friday (7th April)
  • Easter Monday (10th April)
  • Id-ul-Fitr (22nd April)
  • Labour Day (1st May)
  • Madaraka Day (1st June)
  • Idd ul Azha (29th June)
  • Utamaduni Day (10th October)
  • Mashujaa Day (20th October)
  • Jamhuri Day (12th December)
  • Christmas Day (25th December)
  • Boxing Day (26th December)

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Social Security

Social Security

Approval for a 6% Social Security deduction is pending. But the contribution towards National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is a mandated retirement savings program. Employers and employees both make monthly contributions up to KSH 200, towards it.
Taxes for Employers

Taxes for Employers

1.5% - National Housing Development Fund (pending legal ratification)

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Taxes for Employees

Taxes for Employees

Individual income taxes might be as high as 30%. Pay-as-you-earn principles are used by the government to determine income tax rates.
  • 1.5% - National Housing Development Fund (pending legal ratification)
  • National Hospital Insurance Fund: 150 - 1,700 KES
  • Income tax rates percentage for employees are as follows:
    • 10% for income Up to 288,000 KES
    • 25% - 288,000 for income upto 388,000 KES
    • 30% for income above 388,000 KES


An employee may be terminated by their employer during a probationary period of up to six months with seven days' notice or by paying money in place of notice.

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In Kenya, terminations can be complicated. Outside of the probationary period, employers in Kenya are not subject to at-will termination; and, terminations must be justified.
Terminations in compliance include:
  • Based solely on the employee's compliance with the following conditions:
    • Misconduct
    • Not being able to work (for reasons relating to performance or sickness)
    • Redundancy
  • Upon termination of the agreement
Severance Pay

Severance Pay

  • In Kenya, there is no legal requirement for employers to provide severance pay to employees who are terminated. However, some employers may choose to offer severance pay as part of their employment contract or company policy.
  • Employers are required to provide severance pay to their terminated employees, if applicable. The amount of severance pay is calculated based on the employee's basic wages and is equivalent to 15 days of wages for each completed year of employment.
  • If an employee's contract of employment stipulates that they are entitled to severance pay, the employer is obligated to pay it upon termination. The amount of severance pay is typically calculated based on the length of service and the employee's salary at the time of termination.
  • It is worth noting that severance pay may also be negotiated between the employer and employee in cases of dispute resolution or where the employer wishes to terminate employment without cause. In such cases, the amount of severance pay offered may depend on various factors, such as the reason for termination and the bargaining power of the parties involved.
  • Overall, while there is no legal requirement for severance pay in Kenya, employers may choose to offer it as a way of providing financial support to employees who have lost their jobs.
Employees or Contractors

Employees or Contractors

  • According to the Employment Act, an employee is anyone who is paid a wage or pay, including trainees. An independent contractor is a person hired to complete work but whose method of doing so is not controlled or predetermined by the person hiring him/her; instead, he/she is free to utilize their judgment. The Act does not define independent contractors.
  • It's crucial to examine beyond the language of the parties' contract to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. To determine if an employer/employee relationship exists, the full spectrum of facts and circumstances must be carefully examined.
  • Misclassifying the contractors and employees might lead to penalties in Kenya.
Final Words

Final Words

In Kenya, employment norms and opportunities are dynamic and evolving, with an increasing focus on employee well-being and work-life balance. Employers are looking to attract and retain top talent by providing competitive benefits packages, including medical insurance, wellness programs, and mental health support. With the help of EOR services, employers can streamline HR processes and ensure compliance with local labor laws, while also offering valuable benefits to their employees. Overall, there are promising opportunities for both employers and employees in Kenya's growing job market.

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