What The Law Says About Leave Days in Kenya

  | 5 min read
Leave days in Kenya

Leave days as gazetted by the government

Taking a rest is important for your physical and mental well-being. In addition to having some time off work just to relax, there are other circumstances which might force you to take some time off. As a result, the government of Kenya has gazetted some important laws which guide employers and employees on how to take some time off work, under different circumstances. It should be noted that these are the legal privileges protected by the law.

Here are the types of leave every employee is entitled to, under the Employment Act of Kenya;

  1. Annual leave


Annual leave

This is perhaps the most common and widely known type of leave. According to section 28 of the Kenyan Employment Act, clause Clause 7.8.9, every employee is entitled to 21 annual leave days after one year of service to the company, with full pay. This is calculated as 1.75 working days per month. It does not mean that an employee is not entitled to leave days if they have not completed one year of service. Rather, it means that the employee accrues their leave as per the number of months worked in the company. Therefore, if, for example, you have worked for a company for two months, you are entitled to 3 days of leave thus far. These leave days can be taken in lump or in bits spread across the year, as agreed between the employee and the employer.

Moreover, the law provides that any leave days not redeemed within the year can be carried forward, with the consent of the company and must be redeemed before 31st March, after which they are forfeited. The law further states that the leave days carried forward to the next year should not be more than 10 days.

Therefore, employees must take at least 11 days within the year that they are earned and the remaining 10 days must be taken before 31st March of the following year.

In the event that you fail to take your leave days due to workload, your employer should pay you the equivalent of your leave days at the lapse of the 18 months period up to 31st March.

  1. Maternity leave

Maternity leave

Every woman of reproductive age is entitled to a 3-month maternity leave period, with full pay. This should not be counted as part of your annual leave as it is a separate entity. Failure to give an employee maternity leave or dismissal on grounds of pregnancy amounts to discrimination and an employee has the right to sue the employer on grounds of discrimination. With that said, an employee is required to notify the employer, in writing, of her intention to proceed on maternity leave, prior to the commencement date. The law is, however, not clear on just when maternity leave should commence.

In addition to this, an employer should also not deny a potential employee a job on grounds of pregnancy. As such, an employer cannot ask an employee whether she is pregnant, prior to employment as this infringes on the employee’s right to privacy. The employee has no legal obligation to disclose their pregnancy status or take a pregnancy test prior to or during employment. An employer can only seek information on whether an employee is pregnant if the job poses a risk to a pregnant woman or to the unborn child.

  1. Paternity leave

Paternity leave

Under the Kenyan law, a new father is entitled to a two-week paternity leave, with his full pay.

  1. Sick leave

Sick leave

An employee is entitled to sick leave days under the law, in addition to their annual leave days. Under the Employment Act, employees are entitled to 7 days of paid sick leave annually, having worked with their employer for a maximum of 2 months. After the 7 days lapse, the employee is only entitled to 7 other days within the year but on half pay.

If an employee falls sick during their annual leave days, then sick leave does not apply. However, for sick leave to apply, an employee must notify the employer of an incapacity to work through a medical certificate signed by a qualified medical practitioner.

Additionally, under section 34(1) of the Kenyan Employment Act, an employer is required to provide an employee with proper medical care when sick, and this explains why most companies offer medical insurance schemes for their employees. In the event that an employee maximises on their employer’s medical cover, then the employee has the burden of covering any additional medical bills that may arise. This provision, however, only applies where an employee cannot obtain free medical attention provided by the government or an insurance scheme which has been provided for under the law.

As it stands, the law provides an employee with many types of leave days and every employer has an obligation to uphold these laws. Any employment contract that is in contravention of what is provided for under the law is considered null and void and an employee can sue an employer as provided for by the law.

Njeri Karanja
Njeri is a reading and creative writing enthusiast who is neck-deep in research writing. She is well versed in researching and writing on various topics.


  1. Paternal Leave – Are employees required to furnish proof of marriage i.e. a marriage certificate to prove that they are officially married to be entitled to paternal leave. Situations arise where employees have more then one wife and they claim paternal leave in the event of each child birth. Please clarify.

    • Hi Murtaza,
      Thank you for participating on the topic today.
      Someone from our team will contact you on this. Thank you.


  2. What if you get an emergency and you have not completed your leave days. Are you entiled to leave so long as you do not rxost your days. Another qsn is,what if you take just three days for an emergency and you wish to extend. are you allowed to do so? Thankyou..

    • Hi Winfred
      The law is silent on emergencies when one is on leave.This wholly depends on companies policies manual and procedures.But again,most companies would not deny you leave on an emergency situation.
      If one wishes to extend leave-Again the law is silent on this-it wholly depends on company policies.


  3. Thank you for the article. However, I think the government amended sick leave from 14days to 30 days.

    • Thank you Maria, your views and thoughts are important to us. Keep visiting our Career center for more insights.


  4. this awesome, and what does the law says about the service pay. after working for two years as a permanent employee i still could not receive my service upon resignation. advice me please at kelvinmc92@gmail.com

    • Hi Mc,
      The Employment Act, section 40 (1) (g) specifies severance pay at the rate of not less than 15 days pay for each completed year of service with the same employer. This means that severance pay is calculated by multiplying 15 days’ salary by the number of years that an employee has rendered services to an employer.Therefore,the person is entitled to service pay.


    • Hi Eva,
      Thank you for reading.
      Study leave-the employment act of 2007-only 3 types of leaves are recognized by law-sick leave,maternal and annual leave.The law is silent on all other types of leaves including paternal,compassionate leaves.In regards to this,study leave depends on a company’s policies in as far as staff welfare and benefits is concerned.A company may decide whether to give study leave to you or not…but generally,most companies are friendly and will offer this kind of benefit.


  5. Leave carried forward from previous year will be forfeited on 30th June of the following year and not on 31st March. This is when the 18 months lapse.

    • Hi Evans, it may vary from as it all depends which company you work with and its policies terms so we wouldn’t be in a position to answer you on that unless we get details on the company you work to.


  6. Hi There,

    I wanted to ask – can an employer force you to take leave at specific times. For example if the company closes its offices during the election period – can they unilaterally deduct leave days for the time they chose to close the offices without your agreement. Is there any law that can be cited in this regard.

      • Hi Hellen,
        Thank you for reading.
        We can best answer you right here. With regards to your question, in cases where security is a force to be reckoned, employers are forced to close the company until they are assured safety of their workers and with this regard, the workers leave days cannot be deducted. You will find most companies on that day will close and same applies to where you currently work. We hope we have answered your question and if you need more clarity feel free to write back to us.


  7. Hi There,

    How do you determine leave pay rate?
    My gross pay is Ksh 100,000 and am entitled to 21 days leave.

    i have been requested to en cash 13 days, so my thinking is the computation is as follows
    100,000/21*13= 61,905

    However my employer is computing 100,000/30*13=43,333.

    Which way ought we to follow

    Await your response

    • Hi Anthony

      Thank you for asking.

      In this case, your employer seem to be right. When computing leave days, you take your monthly gross pay divide by 30 to get your day’s salary then multiply by the pending number of days.

      100000/30*13. Hope this has answered you well. ^AN

      • Team bright Monday point of correction
        when computing we take gross*no of days divided by 26 days in each month

        • Hi Michael,
          Thanks for noting but what we have highlighted is information we have gotten through thorough search however we appreciate you readership.


    • Hi Maria,
      The seven days are for working days not calendar days and in case you utilize them all then you still have seven additional leave days however one will be paid half. We hope we have answered you correctly and if you need more advice let us know.


  8. At my work place, we work Saturdays half day. So my employer counts Saturday as a working day when calculating leave days. So in total one ends up with 25 days of leave.
    Is this correct?

    • Hi Mercy, to answer you, Companies have different policies but we would want to know were you recently hired? you can get more clarity on the same from your Hr to rightfully know your leave days. If you have more questions on the same feel free to write back to us.


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