At Least 133,000 Kenyans In the Formal Sector Sacked Over COVID-19 Effects On Businesses – Labour Ministry

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui [Photo/Courtesy]

At least 133,657 Kenyans have been rendered jobless as the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to take a toll on businesses in the country.

In a report tabled in parliament this week, the Ministry of Labour revealed that all the lost jobs so far are in the formal sector.

The number excludes employees on unpaid leave and those who have taken pay cuts as the global health crisis eats into company profits.

Since the country reported its first case mid-March, many companies closed down businesses or scaled-down operations as part of the measures to contain the spread of the disease in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

According to the report, the most affected sectors are transport, aviation, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, wholesale and trade, agriculture and the informal sector.

Read: Kenya Confirms 10 More Cases Of COVID-19 Raising Total To 384

The pandemic has resulted in reduced revenues, loss of business opportunities, loss of markets for goods and services, shortage of raw materials leading to the sectors closing down businesses with some working with lean staff as they struggle to stay afloat.

The Ministry of Labour says the number of job losses is likely to rise as some companies are yet to notify the ministry on redundancies as required under the Employment Act, 2017.

“Measures put in place to contain the spread of the pandemic have resulted in loss of jobs in key sectors of the economy. Also witnessed work-related fatalities and casualties involving employees in key organisations offering essential services,” the report says.

Kenyans working abroad have not been spared either. The ministry noted that some have raised concerns over non-payment of salaries, health and restricted movement.

Read Also: Bad People Could Be Using Covid-19 To Cover-up For Murders and Extra-judicial Killings – Moses Kuria

The Ministry said the most affected Kenyans abroad are those in United Arabs Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

If the crisis persists, at least 300,000 workers in the tourism sector could lose their jobs. The workers were sent on unpaid leave from early this month.

Workers in the horticulture and floriculture industry totalling to 50,000 have in the recent past been sent on unpaid leave and at least 900 others have received redundancy notices.

The transport sector has also left at least 90,000 people staring at job losses following restrictions on movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Mandera counties.

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The report shows that about 58.1 per cent of Kenyans in informal employment have been affected as most of their businesses rely on imports from China, which has been under lockdown.

“The pandemic has affected labour migration management across the globe because of restrictions in travel and lockdown,” reads the report.

Protect Employees from Job Losses

The latest comes days after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law a bill barring employers from sacking or forcing their staff to take pay cuts over a drop in revenue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 now requires companies to send their employees on unpaid leave in the event they are unable to pay salaries and wages due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege

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