‘My people perish from lack of knowledge….. Hosea 4:6‘
This is a Biblical verse from the Old Testament that is very relevant to all employees even during these times. Employees have in the past rightfully complained about the kind of injustices that their employers take them through at their places of work. These kinds of things continue happening because of very may factors, among them the ignorance on the part of the employees. Kindly take note that this article is not aimed at attacking any employee or employer, neither is it aimed at creating an uprising, but it is important that you take some responsibility for your life.
I wish to emphasize on this, there are very good employers out here who go to great lengths to take care of their employees and treat them as assets and human beings. We must also acknowledge that there are very wicked employers, supported by very incompetent HR practitioners. A combination of this is a recipe for disaster. Employers are able to successfully take advantage of their employees because they know that these employees are not aware of the difference between rights and privileges. When recently someone informed me that female employee of a certain company had delivered her baby via CS and a month later, she as required back to work, I was in shock. I’m still not sure what could have been so urgent at work that a new mum, nursing a new baby and a serious wound would be the only person that could attend to.
It is the duty of each employee to keep themselves abreast of all and any employment law that affects them. It is okay as an employee to tell your employer, ‘hey, I understand the decision you’ve made on this matter, but its not the legal thing to do.’ There have been instances where employees have raised questions about issues of concern and the response has been ‘….it’s company policy‘. Having company policies is great, very important. However, company policies do not supersede the employment laws or the constitution. A policy is useless to an organization if it is not formed within the legal framework. If your policy says, ‘…female employees are entitled to two months maternity leave……‘, that’s already a problem, no matter how much you try to justify it.
When you proceed to sign your employment contract though you have seen a questionable clause hidden in there, you are failing yourself. It is okay to ask questions. Whenever an employee tells me, ‘I know my rights’, I pay attention and that’s because I want to be sure that we are on the same page. Unfortunately, sometimes these ‘rights’ turn out to be uninformed. It is the duty of your HRM to advise you on employment issues but it is also within your ability to verify these pieces of advise you are receiving especially if you have doubts.
Don’t just sit there, do something! There are so many resources available that you can be able to read from. The internet is flooded with material, kenyalaw.org is a great place to begin. There are books that you can teach yourself with. You may ask experts in these fields to advise you. You must be cautious though of these experts as there are quarks masquerading as experts too. The point is, instead of leaving these issues to chance, why not arm yourself with the necessary knowledge. Learning something new has never killed anyone. Read!