May 26, 2024
Diaspora

Kenya Proposes a mandatory State Welfare Fund for Migrant Workers Abroad

Nairobi, Kenya – In a decisive move to ensure the safety, welfare, and ethical treatment of Kenyan migrant workers, the Parliament of Kenya has unveiled the “Labour Migration Management Bill, 2023.” This groundbreaking legislation aims to regulate labor migration, govern private employment agencies, and fortify the rights and protection of Kenyan workers embarking on employment opportunities both within and beyond the country’s borders.

A New Era of Migrant Worker Protection

The Labour Migration Management Bill, 2023, represents a significant leap forward in safeguarding the interests of Kenyan citizens who seek employment overseas. With a comprehensive framework that spans eight parts and covers all aspects of labor migration, the bill sends a clear message: Kenya is committed to ensuring the well-being of its migrant workforce.

Key Provisions of the Bill

The bill, broken down into eight distinct parts, is poised to revolutionize how labor migration is managed in Kenya:

PART I—PRELIMINARY

  • Sets the stage by defining terms, outlining the objectives of the Act, and specifying its scope of application.

PART II—ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACT

  • Empowers the National Employment Authority to regulate private employment agencies, oversee the protection of migrant worker rights, and facilitate the orderly management of labor migration.
  • Establishes the Multi-Agency Committee on the Vetting of Private Employment Agencies, responsible for scrutinizing and approving applications from private employment agencies.
  • Introduces the concept of labor attachés, government representatives stationed abroad to safeguard Kenyan migrant workers’ interests.

PART III—PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES

  • Focuses on the registration and regulation of private employment agencies, with a strong emphasis on ethical recruitment practices.
  • Addresses conditions for registration, the establishment of a contingency fee to protect workers’ rights, and the approval of job orders and job advertisements by private employment agencies.
  • Sets out a clear code of conduct and obligations for private employment agencies.

PART IV—PRE-DEPARTURE PROCEDURE FOR FOREIGN EMPLOYMENT

  • Outlines procedures for Kenyan workers seeking employment opportunities abroad, including pre-departure orientation programs, attestation of foreign employment contracts, and registration of migrant workers.
  • Identifies exemptions from these pre-departure procedures for certain individuals.

PART V—ENFORCEMENT

  • Establishes a framework for the enforcement of the Act, including the appointment of inspectors with defined powers and functions to ensure compliance.
  • Provides the authority to issue necessary orders for compliance.

PART VI—THE KENYA MIGRANT WORKERS WELFARE FUND

  • Paves the way for the establishment of the Kenya Migrant Workers Welfare Fund, designed to provide protection and assistance to Kenyan migrant workers.
  • Defines the Fund’s objectives, governance structure, funding sources, and investment strategies.
  • Stresses the importance of actuarial valuations to ensure the Fund’s sustainability.

PART VII—MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  • Tackles various miscellaneous matters, including restrictions on labor migration, repatriation of migrant workers, bilateral labor agreements, appeals against administrative decisions, offenses, penalties, the establishment of safe houses, and regulatory authority vested in the Cabinet Secretary.
  • Includes transitional provisions to ensure a seamless transition to the new regulatory framework.

PART VIII—CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS

  • Addresses consequential amendments to existing legislation, including the repeal and amendment of sections in the Employment Act, 2007, and the Labour Institutions Act, 2007.

A Commitment to Protecting Kenyan Workers

The Labour Migration Management Bill, 2023, underscores Kenya’s dedication to protecting its citizens as they explore employment opportunities abroad. By enhancing ethical recruitment practices, safeguarding migrant worker rights, and providing comprehensive support throughout the migration process, Kenya is setting a precedent for the region and the world.

The bill is currently under review by the Parliament of Kenya, marking a critical step forward in promoting safe, orderly, and ethical labor migration while prioritizing the welfare and protection of Kenyan migrant workers. Kenya is poised to lead the way in championing the rights of its workforce, both at home and abroad.

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