Employers will no longer be required to provide food, clothing, and lodging to house helpers and other workers if amendments to the Penal Code proposed by the Judiciary are passed.
The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to repeal section 173 of the Penal Code that touches on employers not providing for their workers.
Section 173 of the Penal Code states that any employer who neglects to provide basic needs to their workers is guilty of a misdemeanour, which if found guilty carries a jail term not exceeding two years.
The Section also states that an employer who maliciously causes harm to their servants to the point that their health is endangered is also guilty of a misdemeanour.
Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya Justice Martha Koome during the admission of Advocates to the Bar on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
“Any person who being legally liable, either as master or mistress, to provide for any apprentice or servant necessary food, clothing or lodging, wilfully and without lawful excuse refuses or neglects to provide the same, or unlawfully and maliciously does or causes to be done any bodily harm to such apprentice or servant so that the life of such apprentice or servant is endangered or that his health has been or is likely to be permanently injured, is guilty of a misdemeanour,” reads Section 173 of the Penal Code.
The Judiciary now seeks to repeal the section, meaning that it will no longer be recognised as an offence under the Penal Code if approved by parliament and signed into law by the President.
According to CJ Koome, who presented the bill to the National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, the Judiciary seeks to change sections of the Penal Code that involve human rights.
Some of the changes touch on bigamy, prostitution, and life imprisonment for capital offenses among others.
If the new bill is passed, wedded people can marry other partners even if their spouses are still alive.
Koome also proposed reducing life imprisonment sentences to a period not exceeding 30 years for capital offenders.
She also asked Parliament to repeal Sections 153, 154 and 155, which stipulate imprisonment as punishment for prostitution.
An image of a legal scale and a gavel.