Forced Labour

Is forced labour allowed in Kenya? What is forced labour? FAQs on forced labour in Kenya including information about bonded labour, labour trafficking, child slave labour

Forced labour means any work or service which is exacted from a person under threat of any penalty, including the threat of a loss of rights or privileges, which is not offered voluntarily by the person doing the work or service. It does not include:

  • Labour required during a period when the country is at war or in the event of an emergency or calamity that threatens the life and well-being of part or whole community/ population.
  • Work in the military done on purely military character, except compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
  • Labour which forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of Kenya.
  • Labour carried out as a result of a conviction in a court of law, under supervision and control of a public authority but not hired out to private persons, companies or associations.
  • Communal labour meant to benefit the community provided community members or their representatives are consulted.

What if your employer takes your passport?

Section 31 of the Constitution, 2010, gives every individual the right to privacy, and in section 31 (b) this includes the right not to have one’s possessions seized. A passport is a worker’s possession.

What if your employer asks you to pay for lodging between shifts, or to pay by having sex?

Kenyan law is not very specific on employers’ actions that constitute forms of forced labour.

Is it an offence for an employer to engage a worker in forced labour?

Yes. It is an offence for an employer to exact or cause to be exacted, or permit to be exacted, forced labour from any worker.

What is the penalty for such an offence?

An employer who contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding KES 500, 000 or to not more than a two-year jail term or to both.

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Find out about Minimum Wages in Kenya. And take the Salary Survey.