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After a series of interviews, or one gruesome interview that almost brought you to tears… there you are, seated in this airy office with sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat waiting for your offer letter. You can see the HR representative talking, but you can’t hear what he is saying. The little that you can hear is creating confusion in your mind. Your eyes start to sting. Are there onions close by? Is the air in the office contaminated? Your racing heart has sunk to the pit of your stomach because the terms, aka the salary, is not what you were expecting. Not even close.

Mr. HR is saying he’ll give you two minutes to read through it and decide if you would like to sign. Two minutes to make this life-changing decision? You want to ask him, “What is with the air in this room?” but he’s already out the door. You blink. Breath in, breath out. He’s back in the room. Was that two minutes already? You really aren’t sure about the terms Mr. HR has offered you, but this is your one shot. Will you take it?

Sometimes, we find ourselves in such predicaments when the contract offered does not resonate with our expectations. At such times, it boils down to preference. “I was expecting a better salary, the working hours are unacceptable, the duties are ambiguous” etc. Well, other than preference, which is purely subjective, how can you objectively look at a contract and decide whether this is for you or not?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of contracts, it is important to understand that it is at the employer’s discretion to decide which kind of contract to give. This is based on different reasons such as the organizational practice, the nature of business, the level of the position to be filled (internship, entry level, mid-level, managerial etc.) It really depends on the organization. The Employment Act 2007 however does inform on the general provisions of contracts of service, which apply to both oral and written contracts.

Some of the things a good contract stipulates are:

  • Entitlement to annual leave, including public holidays, and holiday pay
  • Sick leave, including any provision for sick pay
  • Pensions and pension schemes (if any)
  • Type of contract (see below)
  • The length of notice which the employee is obliged to give and entitled to receive when terminating the contract of employment
  • The place of work, including the address of the employer

A few types of contracts in the Employment Act, 2007 are: –

  • Probationary contracts;
  • Fixed term contracts;
  • Open ended contracts;
  • Contracts to perform specific work;
  • Casual contracts; and
  • Foreign contracts of service.

In addition to the contract, it would be ideal to have a Job Description so that you are sure of your duties and responsibilities in your new role.

Get familiar with the employment act on http://www.kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/Acts/EmploymentAct_Cap226-No11of2007_01.pdf or scroll down your contact list and ask that lawyer friend for a coffee date.


This article was written by Loise Mburu.


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