Kenyans denied pension jobs on employer cost cuts


Kenyan employers are hesitant to commit to full-time hiring on economic uncertainty. They are resorting to short-term contracts to limit overhead costs.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Kenyan employers, hesitant to commit to full-time hiring on economic uncertainty, are resorting to short-term contracts to limit overhead costs.

The trend, both in the private and public sectors, paints a bleak outlook as cautious employers cut back on the creation of permanent positions spooked by the fear of the unknown.

A review of industry data shows that casual jobs are now growing at about five times faster than regular permanent jobs in the country.

The Economic Survey 2023 shows that in the 10 years between 2012 and 2022, the number of casual jobs has grown by 134 percent from 220,700 to 517,000 compared to a 29 percent rise in the number of regular permanent jobs to 2.49 million.

The survey further reveals that over the same period, the proportion of casual workers in Kenya’s formal workforce expanded from 10.2 percent to 17.1 percent. “Overall, casual employment registered a growth of 1.8 percent and accounted for 17.1 percent of the total wage employment,” the report states.

While the high proportion of casual workers continues to be men, over the past decade the growth rate of casual workers among women has been faster.

Between 2012 and 2022, women employed on a casual basis increased by 188 percent, against 111 percent for men. A total of 325,800 men were employed on a casual basis last year, against 191,200 women.

The data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is a further revelation of the direction Kenya’s employment continues to take even as labour organisations criticise the shift.

The Public Service Commission in the 2021/22 annual report indicated that workers on contract constituted 13.7 percent, rising from 8.7 percent in 2016/17.

“It was established that 80.9 percent of the officers were serving on permanent and pensionable terms and 13.7 percent were on fixed-term contracts. This meant that a majority of the institutions adhered to the provisions of the Laws and Regulations.

“Staff serving on temporary terms were at 1.3 percent. The number of temporary staff increased by 194 compared to the 2020/2021 financial year,” the PSC report stated.

It noted that of the 3,169 officers serving on temporary terms of service, 61 percent were engaged by Kenya Power. “This was contrary to the provisions of the PSC Act, 2017 and the Employment Act, 2007 which does not have provision for this term of engagement.”

Workers employed on contract in 477 public institutions were 34,496 in 2021/22. In 2016/17, 164 institutions engaged 12,341 workers on contract.