Refining the Determination of Minimum Wage Standards in Kenya

The International Labour Organization (ILO) project All Hands in Kenya (AHK) collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in Kenya, to develop a government economic position paper meant to guide the minimum wage during the upcoming Labour Day celebrations.

News | 03 April 2024
Participants of the Ministry of Labour workshop to create a government position paper on the 2024 minimum wage
ILO News (Kenya) In a proactive move aimed at refining the determination of minimum wage standards in Kenya, The International Labour Organization Project All Hands in Kenya (AHK) in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection through the State Department of Labour, conducted a three-day consultative workshop between 19th and 21st March 2024. The workshop aimed at crafting a government economic position paper that would serve as a guiding framework for setting minimum wage benchmarks during the country’s forthcoming 59th Labour Day celebrations in 2024.

The consultative session involved participation from various government departments, indicating a collective commitment towards fostering equitable labour practices. A total of 15 participants from various government departments and agencies contributed to the workshop's discussions. These included representatives from the National Productivity and Competitiveness Centre, the Office of the Labour Commissioner, the Central Planning and Monitoring Unit, The National Treasury, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Public Service & Performance Management, and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Commissioner of Labour Hellen Apiyo expressed the significance of wages in employment contracts, affirming, "Wages are a key part of an employment contract and play an important role in creating motivation towards maximum productivity. This session creates a good opportunity to discuss and propose wage determinations that can be announced during the upcoming labour celebrations."

The culmination of the workshop yielded a comprehensive government economic position paper, intended to be presented to the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, as well as the Head of Public Service, for further deliberation and input. The position paper encapsulates several key principles aimed at fostering informed decision-making regarding minimum wage determinations towards the upcoming labour day celebrations.

Kenya National Labour Board Member Areba Omwoyo Samba voiced strong support for the initiative, stating, "The National Labour Board is keen on making Kenya a competitive country on wages and the working environment, ensuring we are in line with international labour standards. The board is therefore fully supportive of all activities towards the promotion of the decent work agenda in Kenya such as this workshop."

The position paper emphasizes the need for government unity in advocating for evidence-based policies. By leveraging the expertise of different government entities, policymakers can ensure that minimum wage recommendations are well-informed and grounded in empirical evidence. Further, the position paper advocates for constructive engagement between tripartite constituents and government stakeholders.

The idea of paying a sufficient living wage was established by the Treaty of Versailles, and it became even more crucial after the 2008 financial crisis caused a considerable decline in purchasing power. In its response to the crisis, the ILO underlined the critical connection between fixing minimum wage and reducing poverty. The Global Jobs Pact, which was approved in 2009, emphasized minimum wages as an essential instrument for tackling the problems caused by the economic slump. Specifically, the Pact underscores the importance of regularly adjusting wages in consultation with social partners to mitigate inequality, boost demand, and foster economic stability. Kenya's ratification of ILO Convention 131 demonstrates its commitment to establishing mechanisms for determining and periodically reviewing minimum wage rates, ensuring fair and equitable remuneration for workers.

The last minimum wage increment in Kenya was during the Labour Day Celebrations in 2022, following a similar process in partnership with the AHK project. As the government prepares to announce minimum wage determinations during the upcoming Labour Day celebrations, the insights gleaned from the consultative workshop will play a pivotal role in shaping wage policies in Kenya.