Bomet County Government ordered to reinstate 595 employees who were sent home


The termination of service affected more than 3,000 employees in Bomet County.

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What you need to know:

  • The employees sued the county government of Bomet and the county public service board for termination of their services.
  • The court noted that employer and employee relations between the county government and the claimants were not in doubt.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered the County Government of Bomet to reinstate 595 employees who have been on contract for over seven years and transition their terms to permanent and pensionable.

Justice David Nderitu directed that the devolved unit also pay the affected workers their salaries, allowances and other benefits accumulated for the last 14 months within the next 30 days.

The county has also been barred from advertising, interviewing or recruiting other candidates to replace the affected workers in the positions they were appointed to serve.

“The county governments and indeed the public institutions ought to disabuse themselves of the notion that each administration that takes the reins of power has to come with its workforce and in the process terminate, by all means, the subsisting workforce,” Justice Nderitu ruled on Thursday.

Justice Nderitu added: “It is no surprise that the purge on the grievants herein closely followed the 2022 General Election whereby new county governments took over the reins of power in the 1st respondent (county government)."

“For the sake of delivery of services to the citizens and development, all and sundry must rise above this retrogressive notion may it be at the national or county governments or in private or public institutions,” Justice Nderitu stated.

Even though the 595 employees sought legal redress, the termination of service affected more than 3,000 employees, according to the documents filed in court by the workers through their advocate, James Oketch.

The employees sued the county government of Bomet and the county public service board on October 24, 2022, following the issuance of notice of termination of their services, which they had rendered for seven years.

“The respondents are hereby ordered to within 30 days of this judgement pay all or any pending salaries, benefits, emoluments, and other benefits that are due and payable to grievant to date,” Justice Nderitu ordered.

Extension of contracts

“The respondents shall jointly and severally meet the costs of the case.” 

“A declaratory order be and is hereby issued that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the grievants under Article 41, 47, and 50 of the Constitution were violated by the unilateral decision and action of the respondents in the issuance of the notices/letters of 30th September 2022.” 

Justice Nderitu ruled that the notices/letters issued of extension of contracts by the county government to the workers were “notices of termination of service in disguise (which) were unjust, irregular, unfair, unlawful, null and void...Consequently, the impugned notices/letters be and hereby quashed and nullified.”

Justice Nderitu further ordered that the county government “shall not vary, alter, change, or interfere with the terms and conditions of employment for the grievants in any way or manner other than as provided in the law.” 

Documents filed in court show that the claimants were first engaged for two years from October 1, 2015, but they continued to serve thereafter for another five years with the full knowledge, consent and approval of the employer (county government) from which they earned full salaries and allowances.

The workers produced monthly pay slips from the county government to demonstrate their engagement after the initial contractual period.

Justice Nderitu noted that the devolved unit entered an appearance on November 7, 2022, but subsequently did not file any responses in the case.

The County Public Service Board neither entered appearance nor filed a defence, Justice Nderitu noted while delivering his judgment.

He noted that employer and employee relations between the county government and the claimants were not in doubt.

Appointment of the workers

The court also noted that there were supplementary submissions filed by Gordon Ogola, Kipkoech and Co. Advocates, allegedly for the county government, dated May 16, 2023, yet there was no notice of appointment from the law firm traced in court.

Justice Nderitu noted that all along, Andrew Mawtwere, a legal officer at the county, had been on record for the devolved unit and that the submissions from Gordon Ogola, Kipkoech and Co. Advocates should be expunged from the record.

“Contrary to the allegations made by the respondents, albeit from the bar, there is no evidence that the said contracts were at any point in time revoked and or cancelled for alleged irregularities or illegalities” Justice Nderitu observed.

The Judge further stated that there was no evidence that the Public Service Board had taken any action to investigate alleged irregularities or illegalities in the engagement and appointment of the workers by the executive arm of the devolved government unit.

It was noted by the court that the claimants produced duly signed letters of appointment and that they had served for seven years without any challenge from the County Public Service Board.

Interestingly, the letters of appointment were signed for and on behalf of the county secretary and the county public service board.

The court held that after the expiry of the first two-year contractual terms, the claimants continued to work for the government with salaries and wages due being duly paid for an additional five years without hindrance.

“It is the view of the court that upon expiry of the initial two-year contracts, the grievant gained the status of permanent and pensionable employees after the respondents failed to renew the contracts yet allowing the grievant to continue working and earning the salaries and emoluments,” Justice Nderitu noted.

The Judge stated it "shall be grossly unfair, unlawful and unjust for the employer after enjoying the services of the employees for seven years to turn around and decide that they have to go home for having overstayed their contracts."