Interns and unemployed youth in East Africa’s Kenya may soon be going to the bank smiling. This is because the country’s government is tidying up plans to initiate a proposal to amend the Employment Act and Social Assistance Act, to be approved by the Senate House.
If this falls through, graduates and diploma holders who have been absorbed as interns will be entitled to a monthly stipend of Sh25,000 ($238) while unemployed youth will get a monthly hardship allowance of Sh3,000 ($28).
Two MPs (Caleb Amisi, Saboti; and Didmus Barasa, Kimilili) are spearheading the amendments which is meant to cushion the youth and the unemployed against the harsh economic times.
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Amisi wants the Social Assistance Act no.24 of 2014 amended so that unemployed youth can receive a hardship allowance of Sh12,000 ($114) after every four months as a form of assistance from the government.
The legislative proposal also seeks to amend section 22 of the Principal Act to make provision for the Cabinet Secretary to gazette hardship allowance.
“The unemployed people in Kenya are not provided with unemployment allowance or any social assistance as it is the case in some countries. A big number of unemployed youth are unable to sustain living in urban areas where opportunities are found,” Mr Amisi said.
This will mean the government will spend Sh93.6 billion ($891,171,000) in the first year to accommodate the unemployed youths; the figure will, however, shoot to Sh100.8 billion ($959,722,000) in the second year.
Mr Barasa, on the other hand, is seeking to amend the Employment Act no.1 of 2017 to provide for the absorption of diploma and graduate interns by public and private sector employees and pay them Sh25, 000 ($238) every month.
Mr Barasa’s proposal is estimated to cost taxpayers Sh26.5 billion ($252,308,000) if each of the country’s 110,604 interns is to be absorbed at an average Sh 20,000 ($190) monthly stipend.
“The Bill seeks to provide a minimum wage payable to interns. It also seeks to make provision for a requirement for all employees to file annual internship returns with the director of employment,” reads the proposed amendment.
If passed, it will also be mandatory for an employer to notify the director of employment of every vacancy in his establishment, business or workplace.
The latest UNDP report indicates that the latest number of unemployed youth in Kenya is 2.6 million and these are youths with requisite qualifications but have not yet found employment.
At the moment, the act identifies persons in need to include orphans and vulnerable children, poor elderly persons, unemployed persons, persons disabled by acute chronic illnesses, widows and widowers, persons with disabilities and any other person who may be determined by the Cabinet Secretary.
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