Recruiters looking to send Kenyans abroad without a binding contract will soon be jailed or pay fines if a bill in the Senate seeking to regulate the sector is passed.
The Labour Migration Management Bill 2023, calls for all employers to enter into a foreign contract with migrant workers before sending them overseas.
Whoever violates the guideline is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of Ksh2 million, two years in prison, or both.
While appearing before Parliament, Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore urged the lawmakers to approve the bill once presented.
Labour CS Florence Bore during annual prayers in Kericho on Saturday, July 8, 2023
Ministry of Labour
She explained that her ministry was fast-tracking its composition, but the Office of the Attorney-General boosted had already finalised the legal side, paving the way for its tabling in Parliament.
“A National Policy on Labor Migration has been developed, emphasising safe and productive migration. Additionally, a Labor Migration Management Bill is in the works to hold recruitment agencies accountable,” she stated.
Under the new bill, jobseekers seeking employment overseas will be required to apply for registration at the National Employment Authority.
The bill seeks to equally promote overseas employment and the treatment of foreigners working in Kenya while still protecting the rights of job seekers.
All private recruitment agencies will also be registered under the Authority or be fined Ksh10 million, with directors facing 10 years in jail or both penalties.
“The government shall deploy migrant workers to countries where the rights of migrant workers are protected,” reads part of the bill.
Through the bill, the government shall have labour attaché (public officers) globally who will be responsible for seeking employment opportunities for Kenyans, authenticating job orders, facilitating the provision of counselling services to migrant workers, attending to complaints relating to migrant workers in their stationed country among other duties.
Conversely, Labour CS will be required to create a channel between the migrant workers and Kenya to invest in the country, offer them legal assistance, and develop a database with their relevant information.
“The Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters relating to Foreign Affairs shall in consultation with the relevant Kenya mission, promote the establishment of a voluntary savings scheme for migrant workers,” reads part of the bill, spreading the obligations across to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Foreign Affairs CS may also liaise with financial institutions in Kenya to negotiate favourable terms on investments required.
If approved, recruiting agencies will be required to adopt the measures, protect migrant workers, and reduce the increasing number of Kenyans suffering abroad.
A photo of Saudi Arabia’s Capital City, Riyadh.