Kenya Country Facts

We provide comprehensive information regarding, Culture, Work life, Taxation, Visa’s & immigration, Labour Law, recruiting in your country of choice and employment contracts.

Global Expansion Made Easy for You

Expanding into Kenya generally comes with challenges, however, partnering with us and using Employer of Record (EOR) eliminates the frustrations you could encounter.

What Types of Work Visas and Permits for Kenya are there?

In Kenya, the responsibility regarding visas, passes, work permits, permanent residency and citizenship comes under the Directorate of Immigration, which is part of the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.

Most people wanting to visit Kenya for business, tourism or medical procedures can apply online for the Single-entry e-visa which gives them up to 90 days during its three-month validity. Some countries do have exemption and a few countries’ nationals must apply for a referred visa.

Visa Eligibility

Visitors are divided into three categories:

  • Category 1 are nationals who are visa exempt – around 40 countries
  • Category 2 require a visa and apply online through the Electronic Visa Application System (EVAS), which is processed within two days
  • Category 3 includes stateless people and refugees as well as certain countries’ nationals applying for a ‘referred visa’ which goes for approval and then processing

Main Visa Types

Firstly, to apply for a visa, eligible applicants have to create an account online at

  • Single Entry Visa covers tourism, business travel, family visits, to study and for medical purposes. Category 2 applicant’s visa is valid for three months for trips up to 90 days, within valid period which starts on the day of issue and travellers have to leave Kenya before it expires. Category 3 applicants only have one month’s validity for a 30 day stayApplicants require a passport or travel document with six months’ validity. It is possible to receive a visa extension of a further 90 days from immigration offices in Kenya (Nairobi or Mombasa).
  • Multi-entry Visa is designed for those needing to enter and exit frequently e.g., for business or tourists travelling to other African countries from Kenya. It is also open for family visits, medical treatment and other purposes. Processing time can be up to 28 days as it has to be endorsed by the Immigration Headquarters. Valid for between six to 12 months
  • East Africa Tourist Visa is a multi-entry visa for travellers not only to Kenya but also Uganda and Rwanda. This Joint Tourist Visa is valid for stays up to 90 days providing Kenya is the first port of call. Go online, create an account, and collect the E Visa African sticker when entering the country. This is a temporary residence permit
  • 5-year Multi-entry Visa can be issued to US citizens to visit for tourism or business and takes around 10 days. It needs to be endorsed by Immigration in Kenya. It is applied for online where particular documents are required

There is also a visa for diplomatic, official, and service staff i.e., Courtesy Visa. The Transit Visa is for those travelling to other countries via Kenya for no longer than 72 hours.  There is no Digital Nomad Visa as of July 2023, and workers have to apply for the relevant work permit.

Applying for Work Visas and Work Permits in Kenya

Although in some ways, work documentation is simpler because visas and permits come under just one authority i.e., the Directorate of Immigration, the processes are more complex. They take time and research which requires having a large HR department, which many do not have and so reach out to companies such as Bradford Jacob and their Professional Employer Organisation specialists.

 Paperwork available for employees:

  • An Entry Visa is required (if not exempt) unless they have been issued a Work Permit
  • A Work Permit/Residence Permit is needed to work in Kenya, including voluntary work, research, and internship, or for a charity. It is illegal to work without one, whether paid or unpaid
  • Special Pass is a short-term work permit for employees for up to three months, renewable for up to six months in one year and is applied for from within Kenya. An E-Visa is first required to enter the country (unless exempt)
  • Foreign Nationals’ Certificate or Alien Card/Residence Permit for foreign nationals who spend more than 90 days in Kenya. This can be applied for through the Kenya Foreign Nationals Service Portal. The Alien Card is used to access services and as an ID card during time in the country

Generally, most individuals going to work do so through the Class D Work Permit from registered companies in Kenya, having been offered specialised work from a particular employer. They supply skills not accessible in the Kenyan workforce, which benefit Kenya; or are Intra-company transferees providing knowledge and experience to their parent companies’ subsidiaries; or contributing humanitarian services for approved NGOs; or through a certified ‘technical aid scheme’.

Note: Deposits or Security Bonds may be requested by the Director of Immigration before a pass or permit is issued, of around KES 100,000 (€645, US$709).

Overview of Taxes in Kenya

Figures are given in Kenyan shillings (KES) with equivalents in euros and US dollars.

Personal Income Tax (PIT): There are three bands. Up to KES 288,000 (€1,900, US$2,085) at 10%; the next KES 100,000 (€660, US$724) at 25%; income above KES 388,000 (€2,560, US$2,810) at 30%. Monthly income up to KES 2,400 (€16, US$17.50) is tax free

Corporate Income Tax (CIT): Resident companies are taxed on local and worldwide income. Non-resident companies are taxed on profits earned in Kenya. Resident companies, including foreign-owned subsidiaries, are taxed at 30%. Branch office of foreign companies are taxed at 37.5%. Resident and non-resident companies operating in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are exempt for the first 10 years, pay CIT at 25% for the next 10 years and at 30% after that

Withholding Tax (WHT): Rates vary between 3% and 25% to residents and non-residents. WHT on residents can either be a final tax or credited against CIT

Capital Gains Tax (CGT): Gains made by companies or individual are subject to 15%

Value Added Tax (VAT): The headline rate is 16%, with 8% applying to local supply of fuel, with other categories zero-rated

Customs and Excise Duties: Since July 2022, these have been governed by the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC CET) and align with the World Trade Organisation’s harmonised coding system. Rates vary from 0%, 10% and 25%, with a maximum 35% applying to all imports into the EAC

Stamp Duty: Rates vary from 1% to 4% on transfer of leases, property. Registration of a company with nominal share capital is zero-rated

National Industrial Training Levy (NITA):  Employers pay KES 50 (€0.33, US$0.36) per employee, per month

Personal Income Tax in Kenya

Figures are Kenyan shillings (KES), with equivalents in euros and US dollars.

Personal income tax rates for individuals
Income | Percentage Tax on Excess
Up to KES 288,000 (€1,900, US$2,085) | 10%
The next KES 100,000 (€660, US$724) | 25%
Above KES 388,000 (€2,560, US$2,810) | 30%

Note: Monthly income up to KES 2,400 (€16, US$17.50) is exempt from taxation.

Individual Tax Rules in Kenya

  • The tax year is the calendar year
  • Individuals who earnings are not entirely deducted from payroll at source must file self-assessment returns by June 30 of the following year
  • Individuals not on payroll whose liability exceeds KES 40,000 per year (€264, U$$290), must pay four instalments on the 20th day of April, June, September and December based on the previous year’s earnings or their assessment of the current year
  • Spouses can file separate returns
  • Taxable income includes salaries, wages, bonuses and fringe benefits, company cars
  • Tax residents are those with a permanent home in Kenya, or those present for 183 days in a tax year, or who averaged 122 days in Kenya in each of the two years preceding the tax year. The 2022 Finance Act defined a permanent home as not necessarily owned by the individual, but which is available for them to live in

Employers’ and Employees’ Social Security and Statutory Contributions in Kenya

Contributions are deducted from payroll by the employer for remittance to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

International companies expanding operations into the Republic of Kenya’s economy need to establish a subsidiary in the country to be able to efficiently and legally hire staff and run the payroll for their new entity.

Kenya poses challenges for incoming companies, but there are also attractions for foreign investors looking to build their international profile among East African nations. Kenya has the region’s largest port, Mombasa, which sits on its Indian Ocean coastline and provides access to global sea routes into the Far East and the Pacific Ocean.

Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, is the region’s leading business and financial hub and well-equipped to handle Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the economy, which is essential as the country pursues the economic targets of its Kenya Vision 2030 programme. This focuses on improving infrastructure and upgrading technology in its manufacturing and industrial output. FDI is also needed to build on Kenya’s well-developed utilities network and renewable resources from geothermal, wind and solar power.

Kenya has lagged behind its neighbours in attracting FDI, a situation the government seeks to redress with Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Processing Zones (EPZs).  Companies operating in EPZs are exempt from corporate income tax (CIT) for the first 10 years and pay at 25% for the next 10. Companies in SEZs need not register for VAT and the supply of goods or taxable services are zero-rated.

Companies attracted by this potential typically take the option of opening a private limited company as a subsidiary, also known as a limited liability company in Kenya.

But … there is a better choice. The most practical and financially secure route into the Kenyan economy avoids the difficulties in opening a subsidiary … and Bradford Jacobs has the expertise to remove any potential obstacles. Our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) teams and Employer of Record (EOR) consultants will guide you through every step – from recruiting staff to managing every legal aspect of compliance. Instead of waiting weeks or months, you and your staff can be up-and-running in days … and you can rest assured your employees always remain under your daily operational control.

How to set up a Kenya Subsidiary

Incorporation documentation is filed with the Business Registration Service (BRS), which oversees the operation of the Companies Registry. Procedures to set up a limited liability company in Kenya generally include the following:

  • Verify the unique company name via the BRS’s name reservation service
  • File Articles of Association with the BRS, detailing type of business operation, the company’s structures and bylaws
  • Provide IDs and/or passports for directors, managers and the company secretary, and letters confirming their agreement to hold those positions
  • Register the company’s address where the company is based
  • Register with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and obtain the Tax Clearance Certificate to show the company complies with tax legislation
  • Register company with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
  • Register the workplace with the Director of Occupational Safety and Health Service (DOSHS)
  • Foreign businesses intending to establish a manufacturing company in an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) must register with and have approval from the EPZ Authority
  • Obtain the Certificate of Compliance from the Companies Registry

What are the Benefits of setting up a Subsidiary in Kenya?

The subsidiary operates in Kenya as a legal entity entirely separate from the parent company, which is free from responsibility for any legal or financial liabilities of the subsidiary. The subsidiary has an independent governance structure and its own shareholders, directors, managers and officers.  Generally, the shareholders bear no responsibility for the subsidiary’s debts or liabilities. The subsidiary can undertake new business initiatives unrelated to the parent company’s activities, and operates under Kenya’s laws.

Opening a subsidiary in Kenya provides the parent company with the opportunity to explore new markets outside its regular economic orbit. The subsidiary opens the potential to enter into agreements with other registered companies in Kenya, as well as throughout East Africa. Also, the permanency of a subsidiary has greater credibility with clients and suppliers compared with branches. Unlike with their subsidiary, parent companies are responsible for the branch’s operations and its liabilities.

But … setting up a subsidiary in Kenya is still a long journey compared with taking the most efficient and financially sensible route into the economy.

Here is the best solution … let Bradford Jacobs locate top-rated talent for your company in Kenya through our in-country Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) specialists. Employees can be working at their desks and screens in days … not weeks or months. We remove all concerns regarding employment laws and compliance. Our Employer of Record (EOR) teams handle the hassle … while you have day-to-day operational control over your workforce.

Subsidiary Regulations in Kenya

Incorporation documentation is filed with the Business Registration Service (BRS).

Registration and Documentation:

  • Use the name reservation process with the BRS to confirm and reserve the unique company name
  • Register Articles of Association, providing details of the business structure and intended operations along with its bylaws
  • Provide IDs and, if applicable, passports of all officers of the company along with their written acceptance of the positions
  • Register the company’s official office address and main place of business
  • Register workplace with the Director of Occupational Safety and Health Service (DOSHS)
  • Provide copy of the parent company’s Certificate of Incorporation
  • Register company with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
  • Prepare and register the Company Seal
  • Foreign businesses intending to establish a manufacturing company in an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) must register and have approval from the EPZ Authority

Accounts and Taxation:

  • Register with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)
  • Provide parent company’s Tax Clearance Certificate from the home country’s revenue authority
  • Register Statement of Nominal Capital, although under the Companies Act there is no minimum share capital requirement for a limited company
  • Financial statements and accounts must be audited
  • The corporate tax rate is 30% for resident companies, including subsidiaries of foreign parent companies


  • Company requires a minimum of one director and one shareholder of any nationality and who can be domiciled outside Kenya
  • Written contracts for employees are not mandatory generally, but are strongly advised. If employment under an oral agreement exceeds three months, the contract must be written up
  • The board of directors typically incudes executive and non-executive directors
  • Meetings can be conducted in person or by any telecommunication method, but the report must be written up before being circulated

International companies expanding into the Republic of Kenya will be entering a nation at the heart of East Africa, both geographically and economically. The equator bisects Kenya, which has borders with South Sudan and Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south and Uganda and Lake Victoria to the west. With a southeast coastline on the Indian Ocean, it is a location that places Kenya as a premier hub for international transportation.

North to south, Kenyan is split between a landscape that slopes gently eastwards towards the Ocean, while to the west it climbs towards the highlands of the Central Rift Valley. Kenya’s African peoples comprise virtually the entire population, although other groups arrived during British colonial rule, which ended with independence in December 1963. Many emigrated after independence, although Indians, Pakistanis and mainly British European Kenyans are still found in the urban areas of Nairobi and Mombasa.

Kenya’s global trading traditions pre-date European influences and British colonialization. They can be traced to Indian Ocean coastal Arab trading villages providing ports for dhows from the Arabian Peninsula and Asia. These trading routes still exist in Kenya’s modern export and import activities from its major port of Mombasa.

Starting your business in Kenya

Foreign companies intending to expand into Kenya need to open a subsidiary in order to operate legally within the requirements of the Companies Act and efficiently manage staff and operate their payroll. The typical choice is to open a private limited company, also known as a limited liability company, although the set-up procedures are protracted and can vary between provinces. All of these considerations will have an impact on your expansion plans and how quickly you can begin operating.

Procedures and requirements for a foreign company incorporating a subsidiary in Kenya are completed through the Business Registration Service (BRS), which oversees operations of the Companies Registry, and generally include the following:

  • Reserve and confirm unique company name through the name reservation process of the BRS
  • Provide Articles of Association, detailing the type of business, its structure and bylaws
  • Provide documentation for all directors, managers and the company secretary, with their confirmation they are prepared to hold those positions, along with IDs and, where applicable, passports
  • Register the Kenyan physical address where the subsidiary is to be based
  • Register with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and obtain the Tax Clearance Certificate to show the company complies with tax legislation
  • Register company with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
  • Register the workplace with the Director of Occupational Safety and Health Service (DOSHS)
  • Provide parent company’s Certificate of Incorporation and its tax clearance certificate from the home country
  • Prepare Company Seal
  • Register Statement of Nominal Capital, although under the Companies Act there is no minimum share capital requirement for a limited company
  • Obtain Certificate of Compliance from the Companies Registry
  • Company requires minimum of one director and one shareholder, of any nationality and who can be domiciled outside Kenya
  • Financial statements and accounts must be audited
  • Foreign businesses intending to establish a manufacturing company in an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) must register and have approval from the EPZ Authority
  • Written contracts are not mandatory generally, but are strongly advised. If employment under an oral agreement exceeds three months, the contract must be written up
  • Companies employing more than 50, disciplinary rules must be accessible in the workplace

This incorporation process emphasises it is vital to take the best possible advice to explore the alternatives to opening a subsidiary. By making the right choice now, you can steer a course around these obstacles by working alongside Bradford Jacobs. Our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) specialists and Employer of Record (EOR) experts will source your staff and undertake every step of compliance to have them up-and-running in the shortest possible time. Instead of waiting weeks or months to complete the process for opening a subsidiary in Kenya, you can be operational in days.

Expanding your business into Kenya

Expanding business operations into Kenya places incoming companies at the heart of East Africa, and in one of its frontline economies that is striving to become the region’s dominant industrial power. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a key element in Kenya staying ahead of the growing economic strength of its neighbours Ethiopia, Tanzania and Angola. This competitive economic environment increases the potential in using Kenya as a springboard for further expansion into this region of Africa.

Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, is already the financial and business hub for the region. The rapidly developing start-up and ICT sector attracted most FDI in the early 2020s, with financial and business services holding the highest amount of existing FDI stock. The Kenya Vision 2030 programme has highlighted FDI as essential for upgrading manufacturing and industrial production along with infrastructure.

Agriculture, another target for attracting FDI from foreign companies, remains a strong contributor to export revenue especially from the European Union, which has become Kenya’s second-largest trading partner. In 2022, the EU took €1.2 billion (US$1.3) in exports from the sector, with tea high on the list. Kenya’s other key exports include textiles, coffee, petroleum products, tobacco and iron and steel products.

These are among the opportunities for international businesses expanding into Kenya. However, companies aiming to establish their own entity in the country face issues of incorporation, recruitment and contracts, corporate and employment legislation and much more. By working with Bradford Jacobs as your Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR), we deal with everything on that list. We can ensure that the only item on your list is … ‘Global expansion’.

Advantages and Challenges when entering the Kenyan Market

Some Advantages:

  • Ideal strategic location among East African nations, with Indian Ocean coastline opening global sea lanes for trade. Mombasa is largest port in the region
  • Strong agriculture sector as a major contributor to export revenue
  • Dynamic and swiftly-developing ICT, start-up and financial services sectors
  • Geothermal and hydroelectric power generation
  • Potential development of hydrocarbon reserves of northwest region
  • Increasing middle class and consumer market among the growing population

Some Challenges:

  • Weak investment in public resources at less than 20% of GDP
  • Important agriculture sector vulnerable to climatic conditions, such as drought
  • Skills shortages in employment market
  • Weak infrastructure in some areas a threat to efficient distribution and managing supply chains
  • Poor governance of corporate environment and perceived corruption
  • Potential political and ethnic divisions, with terrorism threat near northern border with Somalia
  • Risk of civil unrest and protests

Kenya’s Employment Act and the Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act permit both written and verbal contracts. Oral contracts must be transferred to written form if employment exceeds three months or if the job cannot reasonably be expected to be completed within three months. Whether contracts are open-ended, fixed-term, full- or part-time, employees are entitled to all benefits regulated either by legislation, their contract or any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreements. Employees must be given their contract or agreement within two months of starting work. It is usual for contracts and all documents to be in English.

Different types of Employment Contracts in Kenya

Open-ended, indefinite employment contracts:  These are the norm and referred to as ‘employment on pensionable or permanent terms’, and end due to mutual agreement, termination according to the law or retirement.

Fixed-term employment contracts:  The Act permits these and the duration is a matter for employer and the employee to agree. There is no clear guidance under the Act as to how many times they can be renewed.

Probation periods:  These are generally for six months and can be extended once, with the employee’s agreement. The trial period contract must be in writing, specifically referring to it being for a probation period.

Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs): Generally they have a life of two years and can improve contractual terms or mandatory benefits, but not undercut them. CBAs can be agreed in individual establishments, by groups of employers or across sectors.

Laws that regulate the labour relationship in Kenya

Leading pieces of legislation include:

  • The Employment Act
  • Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • The Pensions Act
  • The National Social Security Fund Act
  • The National Hospital Insurance Fund Act
  • The Provident Fund Act
  • The Industrial Training Act
  • The Employment and Labour Relations Court Act
  • The Data Protection Act

General requirements for contracts

Employment contracts are governed by the Employment Act and the Regulation of Wages and Conditions of Employment Act. Both written and verbal contracts are permitted in law. If employment under an oral agreement overruns three months, it must be transferred to a written contract that includes the essential elements of the agreement; the same applies if the work cannot reasonably be completed within three months. Contracts are generally in English, but there is a legal requirement to explain the terms to employees who cannot understand English. Formal written contracts should contain the following:  employee’s name, registered address, age and gender; employer’s name and registered place of business; job description, hours of work and place of work; salary, other remuneration and payment schedule; type and length of contract; leave entitlement and other permitted leaves, including sickness benefit.

The Employment Act is the basis for employment legislation.

What are the Compensation Laws?

National Minimum Wage (NMW): The Regulation of Wages Order is revised each year by the government and generally applies minimum wage levels to lower-skilled employees. The monthly minimum in 2023 was KES 15,120 (€98, US$108). Other minimums are set by individual contracts or Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs)

Working Hours and Breaks: The regular working week should not exceed 52 hours spread over six days, and typically totals 45 with five days of eight hours with five hours work on a Saturday. The Act makes no provision for breaks, but there must be one full rest day per week

Overtime: Work above the regular contracted hours is paid at 1.5 times the normal hourly rate, or twice for working on rest days or public holidays

Sick Leave and Benefits: After an employee has completed two months’ service, the Act allows seven days leave on full pay and the following seven days on half pay within a 12-month period. Employees must supply a medical certificate from a registered practitioner

Paid Vacations: The statutory minimum is 21 days of paid leave per 12 months, calculated on the basis of 1.75 days for every month worked, although individual contracts or CBAs can improve the minimum allowance

Public Holidays: Dates vary for the Muslim holidays of Eid-al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, the Islamic New Year and the Birth of the Prophet

Probation Periods: Generally for six months and can be extended once for no more than six months, with the employee’s agreement. The probation period contract must be in writing

Notice Periods: Unless covered contractually or by a CBA, notice periods are not required for those paid daily. Otherwise, they generally match the payment schedule, so those paid monthly receive one month’s notice as do those whose notice terms are not covered by contract

Termination, Severance and Redundancies: Termination is permitted on grounds such as misconduct, poor performance, sickness. Employees must be given the opportunity to be heard by a disciplinary committee in all cases. This also applies during probationary periods. Severance pay is 15 days’ pay for each year worked. Employers must involve the relevant trade union in collective and individual redundancies. Any unused leave is compensated by payment. Under the Employment Act, all mandatory procedures must be followed or the dismissal will be ruled unfair by the Employment and Labour Relations Court

Maternity / Paternity Leave and Benefit: Female employees receive a minimum of three months leave on full pay, funded by the employer, while fathers receive two days paternity leave on full pay. An amendment to the Act in 2021 permits one month’s pre-adoptive leave from the date the child is placed with the individual

13th Month Bonus: There is no statutory requirement for employers to pay a 13th month bonus

Pensions: The retirement benefits system comprises the first tier of mandatory contributions to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the second tier of civil service, occupational, individual and umbrella retirement benefit schemes

Healthcare and Insurance:  The National Health Insurance Fund manages the healthcare system, which is broadly divided between hospitals and dispensaries, with many hospitals in Nairobi and Mombasa up to international standards. Dispensaries are staffed by registered nurses under the supervision of nursing officers. However, the doctor to patient ratio is low and underfunding leads to shortages of qualified medical staff in the public facilities, which tend to have long waiting times. In the public sector, the first stop for most ailments is the dispensaries from where patients will be referred to hospitals if the illness is too severe. Taking insurance to access the better-staffed private hospitals is the usual route for expats. The hospitals are expensive compared with the public hospitals, but provide well-qualified staff and up-to-date equipment and facilities.

Foreign companies recruiting staff in the Republic of Kenya as part of their international expansion need expert guidance, as recruiting in this territory poses many issues. Under the regulations of the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, recruitment must be by an agent or recruitment agency that is registered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP) through the National Employment Authority (NEA). Contracts must be endorsed by the recruitment agency.

Additionally, foreign companies hoping to sidestep Kenya’s skills shortages by hiring non-Kenyans or employees from their home country, must comply with other requirements of the MLSP. The company has to demonstrate that the candidate has skills, experience and qualifications that are not available among the Kenyan workforce and that they have advertised the position locally.

Complicated? Yes! This highlights where the global experience and local know-how of Bradford Jacobs is essential. Our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) platforms will bridge the gap between the skills you need and finding the best-qualified talent for your company. We locate the best available candidates … and you are quickly operational in Kenya. This straightforward alternative provides speedy and economical solutions that will have your new staff moving your business forward in just a few days, removing the obstacles surrounding recruitment and other aspects of employment.

Recruiting in Kenya

When recruiting in Kenya, employers face difficulties matching job requirements with candidate’s skills. The CVs list academic qualifications, but candidates fresh from university or college generally lack the practical ability to hit the ground running. This mismatch adds to the pressure on recruiters to find candidates who can offer experience in a similar role or a completed apprenticeship.

Kenya’s blossoming ITC, digital and start-up sectors, renewable energy and logistics are key areas that recruiters seek to fill. Kenya’s jobseekers in urban areas make use of the strong internet service and their smartphones to search social media and online sites such as LinkedIn, Brighter Monday and My JobMag, so recruiters need to use these options to find staff.

Companies making use of recruitment agencies should ensure they have been legally registered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP) after submitting an initial application with the Director of Employment to open an agency.

You need expert ‘on the ground’ guidance … so call Bradford Jacobs. We have the experience and contacts in place in Kenya to provide a direct route for your journey into the economy. The global reach of our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) networks will locate the perfect candidates for your business expansion vision. Next, our Employer of Record (EOR) specialists will have your new employees sitting at their desks and screens in the shortest time possible. This guide highlights the essentials of recruitment and onboarding in Kenya. You can trust Bradford Jacobs to put the brightest talent in position for your company – today!

Employees’ pre-hire checks in Kenya

General:  The Department of Immigration Services, in consultation with local and international security agencies, is permitted to conduct background checks on any applicants. Generally, there is no legislation governing background checks other than not contravening requirements of the Data Protection Act and the Kenya Constitution, and they can be carried out only with the applicant’s written consent. This applies whether checks are carried out by the employer or a third-party agency.

Medical, drug and alcohol checks:  These can be required where the applicant’s health is relevant to the position, unless the candidate provides a certificate verifying their health and fitness. Employers can refuse to hire applicants who refuse a medical or cannot produce a certificate.

Criminal Checks:  Clearance may be required from the applicant’s home country for certain occupations. Companies employing Kenyans can ask for a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Police Clearance Certificate, with their permission.

Reference and Educational Checks: Verification screening can be carried out and previous employers can be consulted with the applicant’s permission. Employers can request to see education certificates and diplomas.

Required:  Copy of national ID card or passport; proof of registered address; copy of driving licence if applicable.

Basic requirements when recruiting in Kenya

Drawing up employment contracts with staff is a basic requirement of the recruiting and onboarding process, and in Kenya they are governed by the terms of the Employment Act. The law recognises both written and verbal contracts. However, with an oral contract if the employment overruns three months certain minimum terms must be put in writing. Similarly, these minimum terms must be in writing if the work cannot reasonably be completed within three months. Fixed-term contracts are allowed and the Act does not specify maximum duration or the number of permitted repeats.

Written contracts should contain: employee’s name, registered address, age and gender; employer’s name and registered place of business; job description, hours of work and place of work; salary, other remuneration and payment schedule; type and length of contract; leave entitlement and other permitted leaves, including sickness benefit.

The Basics of Kenyan Culture

Kenyans are communal by nature, with extended families playing a huge role in society … from being together for mealtimes to bringing up children. There are over 40 indigenous dialects alongside the national language, Swahili, and the official language, English. The considerable number of dialects is reflected in multiple traditions, as Kenyans identify primarily with their tribes ahead of the nation. This has led to ethnic tensions throughout Kenya’s history. Traditionally, among some tribes the marital status of women is denoted by hairstyle and neck beads; while for a man it is signified by the colours of their clothing. Kenyans from higher up the social scale, such as the wealthier Kikuyu and Luo tribes, have more readily adopted Western culture and styles of dress, particularly in urban areas.

Kenya Work Culture

Hierarchy:  The business system is hierarchical, which is often illustrated by seating arrangements around the table. Decision making in the public sector is strictly top-down.

Punctuality: This often operates on ‘Swahili time’ so meetings may start on time but are likely to overrun the agenda. Punctuality will be appreciated, but as long as you notify ahead, being late will not be held against you.

Introductions/Greetings:  Always use academic titles where applicable, or the honorific title. As the relationship develops, wait for the Kenyan opposite number to suggest moving to first names. Show deference to meeting senior members of the other team, and it is traditional to hold your forearm with the left hand while shaking with the right.

Language:  Most business meetings are conducted in English.

Gift Giving: Commonly given, but should be modest and tasteful; company-branded items are a safe option.

Business Cards:  Exchanged at the start of the initial meeting.

Dress Code: Women are best wearing trouser suits in conservative colours – dark blue, black or grey – with closed-toe shoes, not open sandals. Men should also dress conservatively in dark suits, with collar and tie.

Negotiations and Meetings:  Book meetings two weeks ahead at least, and confirm two or three days before. Meetings are generally lengthy as everyone is given a chance to contribute and generate ideas after exchanging small talk. Trying to rush won’t work, although the pace of business tends to be brisker in the capital, Nairobi.

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