For some strange reasons, Kenyans (employers and employees) do not seem to understand the paternity leave.
Indeed, even the labour laws fail to provide adequate guidance about the paternity leave in Kenya.
For instance, the employment act simply states male employees are entitled to a 14-day paternity leave with full pay.
This article demystifies the paternity leave including the procedures surrounding this seemingly forgotten leave.
Let’s get down to business..
Paternity leave in Kenya: The basic provisions
The paternity leave is given to all male workers after their legal wife gives birth.
It’s important to note that it’s only valid when the officially recognized wife delivers and not concubines or other lovers.
Indeed, polygamous men are only awarded the off when the wife they have included in documents such as the NHIF card bears a child.
Can a casual employee qualify for the paternity leave in Kenya?
Like most of the other types of leaves in Kenya, this leave is exclusively for permanent employees.
That’s because the Kenya employment act differentiates casual employees from permanent workers both in the definition and employment terms.
What is the objective of the paternity leave?
It’s basically a short break from the office to allow fathers to celebrate the successful arrival of the newest member of his family.
In addition, the leave gives the man ample time to help the mother care for the newborn and simultaneously bond with the toddler.
Needless to say, the dad’s presence at home gives the mother moral support.
Length of the paternity leave in Kenya
Like I had mentioned, the employee gets a 14 calendar days off and at the regular full pay.
This essentially makes the paternity leave one of the shortest types of leave in Kenya.
Notably, the leave counts calendar days including holidays and weekends, unlike the regular annual leave which counts working days only.
Some companies, however, allow more days for their male workers as paternity leave.
For example, Microsoft grants its male workforce a 6-week paternity leave.
What are the procedures surrounding the paternity leave?
Most employers expect men to apply for their paternity leave within the spouse’s maternity leave.
No specific commencement date is set so ideally, the two parties should strike an agreement that’s fair both for the organization and the worker.
A verbal notice works though the employer may request a written notice if the organization’s labour policies/guidelines state so.
Concerning the timing, workers should give the notice in reasonable time so that the employer can make arrangements to ensure their business isn’t harmed by the employee’s absence.
How many paternity leaves can an employee take in Kenya?
The law is not specific on the maximum allowable paternity leaves though practically, it should be once a year.
Only one leave is allowed even where the wife gave birth to twins, triplets, or more babies from the same pregnancy.
To recap, the paternity leave in Kenya is a 2-week long off for male employees and is available sometimes after the legal wife delivers.
The procedures and exact timing of the leave depends on the employer’s labour policies and other guidelines.
The leave excludes casual employees.