Work and Sickness

All you need to know about Sick Leave and Pay in Kenya on with information about paid sick leave, sick pay entitlement, medical leave, work sickness

Who pays when I am sick according to the law?

Under the Employment Act, section 34, the employer shall provide proper healthcare for his/her employees during serious illness. The employee must notify the employer of their illness in order for this to take place. 

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is the primary provider of health insurance in Kenya. Membership is mandatory for all Kenyans above 18 years of age. The benefits package includes comprehensive medical coverage for all diseases (NHIF Act, section 22). This means that NHIF members, whose majority is from the formal sector, walk in and walk out of the facilities fully treated at the cost of the NHIF. The benefits package includes comprehensive medical coverage for all diseases.

In addition to the NHIF, which is a public facility, some employers offer private medical insurance to their employees, where medical treatment can be provided by any insurance scheme established under any written law which covers the employee.

Do I as a worker get a salary if I am sick?

An employee is entitled to full paid sick leave after a period of two consecutive months of service.

The Employment Act provides the minimum period of entitlement as seven days with full pay and seven days with half-pay for every twelve months. The employee is required to produce a certificate of incapacity to work signed by a duly qualified medical practitioner.

What happens if I am ill for a long time, in terms of payment?

It is considered to be unfair to base termination on the basis of long illness (for instance, HIV and AIDS status to fall in this category), among others. In practice there is provision of an employee obtaining unpaid leave, after paid sick leave. Any employee who is ill should seek and obtain permission from the relevant authority for absence from the workplace on account of the ill health. Absence from duty without permission is actionable in accordance with Service Regulations

What happens if the illness is related to my job?

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that his/her employees get proper medicines during illness and (if procurable) medical attendance during serious illness. The employer is required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the illness of an employee is brought to their notice as soon as reasonably practicable after the first occurrence of the sickness. Further, under section 10, Work Injury Benefits Act, the employer is obligated to pay compensation to an employee who has sustained personal injury or death as a result of accidents sustained either out of or in the course of employment. Again, an employer can take a workmen’s compensation insurance to meet such claims.

What happens if the illness is related to my gender?

No form of discrimination on the grounds of gender is allowed under Kenyan law. Women and men have the right to equal treatment, protection and equal benefit of the law. An employer is required to give equal attention to his/her employee irrespective of gender.

What does the law say about medical insurance and employees?

An employer is under obligation to provide medical treatment to his/her employees during time of service and, if possible, medical attendance during serious illness. The employer should take up a medical insurance scheme for the benefit of his/her employees.

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