Employee Documentation

One of the things that employees fail to take seriously is the personal information that they provide their employers that go into one’s file.

When you join a company, you are provided with an Employee Data Form where you are expected to fill in your personal information like, marital status, number of dependants, next of kin etc. The above information is usually very important to an employer and always for the general wellbeing of the employee.

The problem comes when such personal information change but the employee fails to update the office. Or when the employee feels that the employer is meddling in their personal lives by asking for such information. Then tragedy strikes and payment of final dues or benefits becomes complicated and the employer is dragged into very unnecessary family drama. As Africans, especially men, polygamy is not a new thing or something to be ashamed about if you have chosen to embrace it. Let your employer know about the three or four wives if you have them.

Whoever you choose as your next of kin is a personal decision. Your employer cannot compel you to select someone you don’t want, even if it’s a spouse. Whenever this person is under age, ie, below 18years, their guardian receives any payments on their behalf. Always remember that the company recognizes only the next of kin name on file. Should you pass on or become incapacitated to the point that you are rendered incapable of making decisions for yourself and you never nominated a next of kin in file, your employer is required to send all of your final dues to the District Labour Office. Your family can always fight it out at the labour office until the government finds a solution.

Maternity Leave

Maternity Leave has been one of the most sensitive subject matters in employment in Kenya.

According to Part V, Section 29 of the Employment Act 2007, a female employee is entitled to three months maternity leave with full pay and has a right to return to the job she held immediately prior to her maternity leave or to a reasonably suitable job on terms and conditions not less favorable than those which would have applied had she not been on maternity leave.

The question however is, what happens when an employee looses her child prior to proceeding on maternity leave, does the employee still qualify for it? I mean, if the child dies say, a week to the expected date of delivery or just before the employee applies to proceed on their maternity leave.

Lawfully, they don’t. They loose the right to the maternity leave because the baby, who is the reason for the leave is no longer there. The law is very silent on this area though and so the company, at it’s own discretion is allowed to make a decision on what happens next putting into consideration the circumstances at hand. The company policy on this subject, if any, applies in this case. It is however a very delicate balance.

Loosing a child is a very difficult moment for anyone and any employer who expects their employee to continue working as if nothing happened can be considered, very wicked. I therefore believe that the company needs to give reasonable time to this employee so they can grieve for their loss before they can resume duties. There is also another side to it. There are those people who would prefer not to take time off and instead bury themselves in work in order to avoid dealing with the issue. This may be okay temporarily but it will definitely affect the employee in the long run. Again, there is no black and white formula for dealing with the death of a child. In such cases, counseling may be ideal, but again, the employee must be willing to take that up.

In my own opinion, sitting down with the employee to establish what they would want is the first step. Secondly, whether the employee wants the time off or not, I think it should be offered to them. All in all, this is one of those areas in human resource practice that a manager is expected to very compassionate and allow the staff have their way.

Human Resources practice

Over time, I have come to learn that human resources practice is one of the loneliest professions one can undertake.

As exciting and challenging as it is, at one point when it comes to decision making, you are most likely to remain alone while the rest of the group goes with what is most convenient to the company at the time, yet unlawful. But the law doesn’t really care about what’s comfortable to you as an employer or employee you know.

Every company has those ‘human resource experts’ whose job is to teach you how to do your job. They will interpret employment laws to you in their own way and then tell you that that’s how it’s done in other places. You see though, that everyone is doing the wrong thing doesn’t make it right.

Human Resources is a double edged sword, it cuts both sides and as the link between the management and the employees, one needs to find the balance. You can’t lean on one side too much. The principles that guide HR practise in my opinion are fairness and justice. In all the decisions you make at the end of the day, the above principles must be put into consideration. And the due process needs to be followed, no matter how long and boring it is.

The role of the human resources department in any company, among others, is advisory. You are required to advise the management on the best employment practises as well as ensure that the employment laws are implemented accordingly. And this is where the challenge is, on the implementation part. As a HRM, don’t just leave it at the advisory level, go the extra mile, push for implementation. There will be resistance, but in time, you will see changes.

Happy Mothers’ Day

Today we celebrate Mothers’ Day and so I celebrate my mother as well as several other great mothers out there.

My mother was a great woman and I can talk about her all day long. Graceful, strong, God fearing, a disciplinarian, don’t even begin to describe this woman. She lives forever in my heart.

Today though, I honor a different woman; my sister (may her soul rest in peace!). She was my second mother, a woman so strong, hardworking and admirable. This fine young woman defended my dignity as a young girl with honor. Her strong character to me was a sure sign that she was a true daughter of my mother. I think in this life, the only person she feared was God.

So when I received that call that morning that she had passed on, I was in shock. I blamed God, my faith was shaken. For a very long time I struggled with depression, I couldn’t sleep properly for months. I don’t think I’ve ever been so afraid like I was when this happened. Until now, I still think that God made a mistake by taking her, it wasn’t just time yet, according to my calculations. But I’m only human. I have learnt to forgive God for this ‘mistake’.

There are several women out there who have taken up the role of mothers by choice or have been forced into it by circumstances beyond their control. We celebrate you all today. There are no accolades that await you at the end of the day but you still go above and beyond to make your children’s lives better. May God bless you more.

And to all those men who are on double duty and have also taken up the roles of mothers to their children because of different reasons, the Angels are preparing a very special place in heaven for you with free high speed Wi-Fi and constant flow of wine. Bless your hearts too.

As for the rest of us who celebrate us mothers in absentia, we hold their memories very close to our hearts. We believe that one day we will be reunited and that wherever they are,they continuing to rest in eternal peace.

Happy Mothers’ Day!!!

You are Fired!

Getting fired is one thing that people rarely admit. I think its because it is somehow associated with failure and shame or something am not sure…. but it is rare to hear people admitting that they got fired. They always say “i resigned, i left”. Even when interviewing we always find reasons to sugar coat such an incident in our answers. Admitting it to even your spouses is sometimes hard. A friend once told me that for 6 months her husband woke up and prepared for work every morning as usual only to learn he had been fired for that long. He would spend his days at Uhuru Gardens on Langata road and then go back home as if from work. He was spending their savings and eventually coming up with excuses about money.

I will admit, it is probably worse than a break up. I mean a real break up from someone who you have extreme feelings for, then from no where they decide its over and 1 day later you see them get married to someone else. It doesn’t matter whether¬† you saw it coming, or it was a surprise, like any loss, when they pull the trigger, you will hurt. You will ask yourself questions, and its important to accept the part you played. If you got fired because for some reason you came to work late everyday… well that is on you, and you need to address why you got that late in the first place. If you get fired for absenteeism or non performance, you need to find out what part you played and forgive yourself. Yes you need to extend the grace you give to others to yourself. That way you are in a position to move on. There are at times that companies also cannot afford to have you around, it is within their right and that is not on you.

However, just like any loss, allow yourself to mourn. Allow yourself to go through all the processes of grief and deal with it. At the same time though, you will need to pick up the pieces. Look at that CV and update it, reach out to people who might know away out, come up with business ideas that can be implemented with what you have i.e. savings etc. Do not sit back, pick yourself up and try to move on. Remember when one door closes another one opens. Try and learn from the loss and make sure your next employer or customer will have no reason to pull the trigger. Be a great employee such that employers look for you and not the other way round.

 

Why did you leave your former employer?

The above question has been a point of discussion in one of my professional networks and I’d like to just share my thoughts on the same.

During an interview, you may be asked, ‘why do you want to leave your current employer? Or why did you leave your previous employer?’. There are so many ways to answer this question.

In any company you work at, you will be unhappy about something; maybe your Supervisor is wicked to you, or you feel micromanaged, you are so fizzled and no one really cares about your opinion anymore, among other reasons. We sometimes leave an employer when we are up-to our necks in frustration. But how do you tell your potential employer all these truthfully but still remain professional?

The thing is, badmouthing your employer does not increase your chances of getting the job. I would personally not hire you simply because you told me how badly your former employer mistreated you. Some candidates however choose to go on and on and on about how bad their employer was to them, how much they hated their boss etc.

I personally believe that all those details are not necessary at an interview. We all have very bad experiences at work, some horrible. But at an interview, just say what’s important. Be precise, don’t say too much. Instead, use that opportunity to sell yourself. Demonizing your former employer will not make your potential one a saint, neither does it make you. Every company has its own issues.

An interview is an opportunity for you to tell sell yourself, the things you can do and convince your potential employer why they should hire you. Focus on yourself, not your former/current employer. The rest of how horrible your experience was can be discussed later during lunch break after you get employed. So use an interview opportunity wisely.

Success is not Sexually Transmitted!

You may have heard or been told that for you to get employment in Kenya, you need to know somebody who knows another somebody who’s very influential.

To deny that these allegations are not true to some extent is to bury one’s head in the sand. Finding a job sometimes proves difficult even when you know you have what it takes, but to believe that you always need to have connections to be employed is a lie. Or that as a woman or man, you need to have sexual relations with an influential person to be employed is just a belief, without any basis to justify it.

Success is not sexually transmitted. I have seen women who have started from the bottom up through hard work, sweat, tears and determination. I have also seen women accused of sleeping with their bosses to get a promotion or rise up the carer ladder, when in real sense, they have worked hard for everything they have achieved. There are also those who have chosen to achieve what they have by compromising their morals.

The problem with trying to use shortcuts to get to the top is that it catches up with you. Bosses change all the time and you can’t sleep with all of them, all the time to gain an added advantage. And by accepting all the sexual offers in order to move to the next step, you have succeeded in proving to the world that you not only wasted the education you got but you are also incapable of doing anything without a ‘god father’.

You do not need to sleep with someone influential or your boss to achieve success at work or anywhere else and anyone offering a job or promotion in exchange for sex is a disgrace to the society. Trust in your own abilities, give time some time, keep sending out those applications, keep working hard, trust in the grace of God, because you will achieve that success you desire so much, you will get that job you yearn for so badly. And you do not need a ‘god father’ or ‘god mother’.

Hello Friend

Show me your friends and I’ll tell you the kind of person you are!

Your friends are a reflection of who you really are, mostly! The people you hang out with greatly influence your behaviors. I have learnt that in this life, your friends can be more family to you than your birth family. Some of them will support you when you are in need way more than even your own blood relatives.

One of the rules of thumb in any true friendship is honesty, loyalty and respect. It is your moral obligation to tell your friend the truth especially when you realize their decisions are going to land them in trouble. Whether they choose to heed to your advise or not is up to them.

You need to hang out with people who build you up and not tear you down. People who will stand with you and defend your honor courageously. People who are bold enough to tell you that the relationship you are in is not healthy and you need to walk away. Those who will tell you that what you are wearing doesn’t suit your body type or is not appropriate for the occasion and you will not take it personally. Those who will tell you to your face that you don’t need a long list of lovers to prove your masculinity or feminity. But when your friends agree with everything you say and do all the time, know that those are not friends, they are actually your fans.

You don’t always have to behave like your friends though. You can be best friends but still totally two different people. And you don’t need to have the whole world as your friends, keep your circle small and tight. Be in a position to differentiate between true friends and acquaintances.

Building a good friendship requires hard work and patience with one another. So if you find that one person who is ready to stand with you through thick and thin, treasure them as you build each other up.