Domestic workers now free to work in Middle East after 29 agencies are allowed to recruit Kenyan workers abroad

29 agencies have already been vetted and registered by an inter-ministerial, allowing them to hire and place Kenyan workers abroad.

The Kenyan government is planning to lift a ban it enforced in 2014, which barred Kenyans from travelling to the Middle East to become domestic workers.

Labour Cabinet Secretary, Phylis Kandie said the government has since adopted new rules and measures that will aid in curbing the mistreatment of Kenyan workers in the Gulf countries.

The government has already set in motion plans to revoke the ban as early as next week by creating strict regulations which agencies and domestic workers must adhere to the letter.

Among the new regulations is pre-departure training for those wishing to travel to the Middle East seeking employment. The National Institute Training Authority (NITA) has also developed a curriculum and will be using their centre in Athi River to train domestic workers.

“I first need to see whether they are prepared to receive the first batch of trainees before I lift the ban. Also note that in the future, we will license other private sectors to do pre-departure training as I’m sure the numbers will rise,” she said.

Hiring agencies will now be required to furnish the government with quarterly returns on enlisted individuals, their personal details and next of kin.

“The ministry has developed a national labour market information system which is set to be linked with the labour market information system for migrant workers and diaspora.”

Contrarily to before where domestic workers were left at their own peril with some brought back home either recounting tales of horror their sufferings in foreign lands and some unfortunate enough to be brought back home in caskets, the state has put measures to ensure such scenarios are never repeated.

“The agencies have duly complied with the new regulatory framework,” is stated in the Ministry of Labour report.

The Ministry of Labour published a progress report, dated 18 October, on foreign employment regarding the tightened laws.

Some of the agencies approved are; Plan Manpower Limited, Skyways Global Services Ltd, Silver RayHR Company Ltd and Elmerry International to mention but just a few.

In order to ensure safe return home, hiring agencies will also have to part with a 'safety bond' first before a domestic worker leaves the country.

The approved agencies for instance paid between Sh500,000 (US$4,824) and Sh1.5mn ($14,472) as a bond to secure the safety and wellbeing of any workers, with the money being saved to purchase tickets back to Kenya if needed.

The country has signed a bilateral labour agreement with the State of Qatar and bilateral labour agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“A draft MoU on labour with United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also been initiated. Other bilateral labour agreements have also been initiated with the Oman, Lebanon, and Jordan. The overall objective is to sign bilateral labour agreements with all key labour destination countries,” the report reads.

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