As businesses struggle to remain afloat in the wake of the negative effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy Parliament has moved in to protect employees from possible loss of jobs.
In the latest recommendations that might change the lives of many that hung in the balance, the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee wants employers who are struggling to pay salaries amid the economic slowdown to offer their staff unpaid leave during the period of the pandemic.
“Where the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the ability of an employer to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall not terminate a contract of service or dismiss an employee or coerce an employee to take a salary cut,” the committee chaired by Kipkelion Member of Parliament Joseph Limo has directed.
The recommendations, contained in proposals to the Tax Amendments Bill of 2020, are aimed at cushioning Kenyans from the unprecedented negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy. The Bill is being debated in Parliament this week.
If the bill passes, it will be a relief to many Kenyans in several sectors in the country that have been badly hit by the pandemic.
Many businesses have been forced to shut down with others scaling down operations as part of the government measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Some of the worst-hit include tourism, entertainment and transport sectors.
Over the recent past, the media industry has also decried dwindling fortunes as the global health crisis bites.
The main five media houses in Kenya have slashed employees pay by at least 50 per cent, They include Media Max, Royal Media, Nation Media Group, Standard Group and Radio Africa.
The media companies cited a drop in revenue as reason for the changes as companies had stopped or reduced their advertising budget following the unprecedented negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
This, the companies said, had eaten into their profits, which relies heavily on advertising.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court recently barred Standard Media Group from implementing the pay cuts following a petition by Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ).
The union cited that they were not consulted by the media house hence terming the move unfair and a violation of the journalists’ rights.
Other service providers like Java house have silently also subjected their staff to up to 40 per cent salary cuts citing harsh economic times.