Types of Leave in Kenya : A complete Guide [2023]

Many Kenyan employees are seemingly unaware of the various types of leave in Kenya even though these breaks are supposed to benefit them.

Well, a majority are aware of the law on annual leave and the maternity leave Kenya.

But ask them about the paternity leave in Kenya, sick leave, or the types of leave for government employees and you draw blank stares.

So, what are different types of leave in Kenya and what are the procedures surrounding each?

Well, read on to get the answers.

Types of leave in Kenya: What the Kenya employment act says

Now, according to the Kenya employment act, employees are entitled to the following types of leave in Kenya:

  1. The annual leave
  2. Sick leave
  3. Maternity leave.
  4. The paternity leave.

Let’s now focus on the main legal provisions for each type of leave.


The Annual leave

This is perhaps the most popular leave in Kenya and most employers respect it.

But what does the law really say about the annual leave?

Well, according to the labour regulations, an employee is entitled to annual leave after working for 12 consecutive months with full pay.

Then, the leave should be at least 21 working days long.

But the law allows the employer to subdivide the annual leave days and have the employee take the leave at different intervals as long as he/she agrees.

This means that you can take the leave in ‘installments’.

For instance, you can take 7 days in January, another 7 days in May, and the remaining 7 days in October if you and your employer deem it fit.

Having said that, the law states that any pending leave days are to be taken within 18 months from the date they were earned.

Lastly, if the employment contract awards the employee more days than the statutory 21 days, the two parties are to strike an agreement on how to use the extra leave days.


Maternity leave in Kenya

Female employees are to be granted a fully paid 3-months maternity leave.

This leave can’t be substituted for the annual leave and is available to lady workers nearing childbirth.

The employee has a right to resume her previous position or such other fitting job that’s equitable on terms/conditions (but not worse than) to the position she held before.

Moving on, the maternity leave is deemed to end on the last date of the 90 days.

The labour laws in Kenya require that the employee issue a 7-days’ notice to the employer before proceeding on leave specifying the date she wishes to commence the leave.

The employee should also state the date she wishes to resume work in the notice.


Paternity Leave in Kenya

The male worker isn’t forgotten and also qualifies for a paid paternity leave in Kenya, ideally at the same time with the spouse.

Of course, one only gets this right upon their spouses’ childbirth.

Notably, the paternity leave is only applicable when the official wife (as per the employment records) bears a child and not unofficial lovers or additional wives (for polygamous men).

The paternity leave is 14 calendar days long (weekends and holidays are counted) and the employee should notify the employer about his intention to take leave within a reasonable time.

The finer details vary from one organization to the next.


Sick Leave in Kenya

The Employment Act also awards an employee a maximum sick leave of 7-days (fully paid) if they have worked for 2 months uninterrupted.

To avoid abuse, the employer has a right to demand a medical certificate signed by a licensed medical practitioner to confirm the status of health for the concerned employee.

It’s the duty of the employee to notify the employer of their sickness in a timely manner.

If they don’t recover fully, the employee may further earn a sick leave of 7-days with half pay for each period of 12 consecutive working months.

He/she should, however, provide a certificate (signed by a licensed medical practitioner) to prove their incapacitation.

There could be other requirements as per your employer’s staff sick leave policy.


Other types of Leave in Kenya

The following leaves are available in some organizations but are not provided for in the governing labour laws..

  1. Study leave
  2. Compassionate leave
  3. Sabbatical leave
  4. Leave of absence.
  5. Special leaves

Study Leave in Kenya

This purposes to help employees study for higher qualifications without being overburdened with work.

Where it’s available, the study leave will be given in line with an organization’s policy.

To recover lost time, most employers require the employee to work for them for a minimum set duration after completing the course.

For example, teachers granted study leaves by the TSC are bonded for at least 1 year after the course.


Compassionate Leave in Kenya

Even though the labour relations act Kenya is silent on this one, some employers grant a compassionate leave in Kenya.

This allows the employees to be near their loved ones during unfortunate events such as death or hospitalization of dependents.

The length of the leave and leave application procedures depends on the organization’s labour policies.


Sabbatical leave

A Sabbatical leave allows an employee to stay away from work while remaining employed.

Employees may request sabbatical leaves to pursue a personal project, like climb Mt Everest or drive across the Sahara.

In some organizations, a sabbatical leave is equivalent to a career break and is an entitlement for long-serving employees (at certain intervals).

Special Leave
The employer might at her own volition grant special leave to employees for any other purpose.

In granting such leaves, Kenyan employers take into account their business interest as well as the wellbeing of their staff.

Since such leaves are not catered for by the labour laws in Kenya, it’s upon the employer to establish the requisite guidelines.


Leave of absence

This is still on individual employers to decide if it’s appropriate or not.

Where granted, it’s mostly upon request and must be on compelling grounds.

It’s expected that the leave will let the employee tackle unusual circumstances in their personal lives.


A word on the Compulsory Leave in Kenya

This is not really a benefit as it’s imposed by the employer on the employee if they are suspecting them of wrongdoings at work.

It can be unpaid or paid depending on the employer.

Again the rest of the terms are as determined by the existing company policies.


Final word

For all types of leave in Kenya, it is important that the employee and the employer are on the same page.

That way, the employee welfare will be catered for while the business won’t suffer because of an employee’s absence.

The employer can even choose to compensate the employee by paying him/her a leave allowance for missed leave days if there’s consensus.

ALSO READ: Paternity leave in Kenya: Length, procedures, application etc


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