Health and Payment
What does the law say about medical insurance?
Under Section 34 of the Employment Act, an employer is under an obligation to provide medical treatment to his employees during time of service, and if possible medical attendance during serious illness. As a result, the employer should take up a medical insurance scheme for the benefit of his employees.
Who pays when I am sick according to the law?
Under the Employment Act, Section 34, the employer shall provide proper healthcare for his employees during serious illness. The employer can only discharge this function if the employee notifies the employer of the illness.
The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is the primary provider of health insurance in Kenya with a mandate to enable all Kenyans to access quality and affordable health services. 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, can be fully treated at cost to the NHIF without making additional payments. The benefits package includes comprehensive medical coverage for all diseases (NHIF Act, Section 22).
In addition to NHIF, which is a public facility, some employers offer private medical insurance to their employees as envisaged in the Employment Act, Section 34 (4)(c) where medical treatment can be provided by any insurance scheme established under any written law which covers the employee.
What happens if I am ill for a long time, in terms of payment and my job?
Under the Employment Act, Section 46 (g), it is considered to be unfair to base termination on the basis of long illness (for instance, HIV and AIDS status would fall into this category, among others). In practice, there is provision for an employee to obtain unpaid leave, after the 45 days of 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 ill health. Absence from duty without permission is actionable in accordance with Service Regulations.
What happens if the illness is related to the job?
Under the Employment Act, section 34, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that his 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 his 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 (under Section 7, Work Injury Benefits Act).
What happens if the illness is related to gender?
Kenya law does not allow any form of discrimination on grounds of gender (Employment Act, section 5 (3) (a) and the Constitution, 2010, article 27), among others. Both women and men have the right to equal treatment, protection and equal benefit of the law. Thus an employer is required to give equal attention to his employee irrespective of gender.
Find out more about Maternity Leave in Kenya.