For some reasons, the paternity leave is extremely misunderstood in Kenya.
Indeed, even the Employment Act 2007 (Section 29) fails to give sufficient guidance and just states “A male employee (is) entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave Kenya with full pay”.
This article seeks to demystify the paternity leave.
Let’s dive right in..
What is paternity leave Kenya?
Paternity leave is a benefit granted to all married male employees after the official wife gives birth.
Note that the paternity leave is only valid to a working man when the legal wife delivers.
So what happens to polygamous men?
Well, it depends on the employer.
For example, for teachers (under TSC) if an employee has several wives, he is typically entitled to the paternity leave in regard to the wife registered under the NHIF Card.
Do casual employees qualify for paternity leave Kenya?
The employment act doesn’t seem to allow casual employees to take paternity leaves since the legislation considers a casual employee to be different from fulltime employees in its definitions.
What is the purpose of paternity leave?
It’s essentially a short paid break from work to allow men to celebrate the arrival of a new member of the family besides helping the mother take care of the newborn.
It’s also assumed that the presence of a dad at home gives the mom moral support.
A father is also expected to take advantage of this time to bond with the new-born.
Length of paternity leave in Kenya
Like I mentioned earlier, the employee is entitled to 14 calendar days as their paternity and at full pay.
According to the specifications of the employment act on paternity leave (Section 29 (8)), you can’t extend this period without having your pay deducted.
This effectively makes it one of the shortest types of leave in Kenya considering that the maternity leave lasts 3 months.
Notably, the current provisions on paternity leave counts holidays and weekends within the 14 days unlike annual leave where only working days are considered.
Having said that, a few companies allow a longer duration for their male employees.
For instance, Microsoft gives its workers a 6-weeks paternity leave.
When should one proceed for paternity leave in Kenya and what is the procedure?
Most employers expect that you’ll take your paternity leave within your spouse’s maternity leave.
On the exact date the worker should commence the leave, it’s expected that the two parties (employer and employee) can strike an agreement.
Moving on, a verbal notice should suffice though in some cases, the employer might ask for a written one if the company’s labour policies and guidelines state so.
In addition, the employer may demand a document to confirm the childbirth and/or prove other details as per the prevalent circumstances.
Concerning timing, a notice should be given in reasonable time to allow the employer make arrangements to cover for the employee going on leave.
How many times can an employee be granted paternity leave Kenya?
The law is unclear on the number of paternity leaves a worker may take though practically it’s about once a year.
Employees can however take only one leave period even if the mother gave birth to several babies (twins, triplets, etc.) from the same pregnancy.
In summary, the paternity leave is a 14-day long paid off for married male employees and is to be taken sometimes after the wife bears a child.
Everything else including the procedures largely depends on the labour policies and guidelines prevailing in organizations.
Casual employees are however excluded.