NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – The period set aside for Kenyans to register their domestic workers under the National Hospital Insurance Fund has been extended to March.
The Manager Operations, Micro Insurance and Sponsored Programmes Richard Sigey told Capital News that employers are expected to submit a flat rate of Sh160 per month for their domestic workers.
“Our interest is not actually to punish anybody. We are more interested to see that we attain what is called universal healthcare and we are using any intervention to ensure that Kenyans have a way of paying,” Sigey said.
However, the lack of clear statistics on domestic workers working in Kenya has posed a major challenge for the national insurer to ensure compliance.
“It is a tall order to register all of them but we are more concerned with making it popular for people to know the benefit of registering a domestic worker,” Sigey said.
In December, NHIF gave a one-month amnesty ending January 30 for anybody who has employed a domestic worker to pay up for them or face stiff penalties.
The penalty will include paying up to five times the amount defaulted.
Despite the directive, only about 10 percent of employers mainly from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Nyeri had complied in the last month.
“Many people do not even know who domestic workers are. To majority of Kenyans they think that domestic workers are only house helps or people who are popularly known as maids,” Sigey noted.
“But according to NHIF, a domestic worker is somebody who is working within the homestead and who may be a gardener, personal driver, a maid or a cook. So we have a variety of domestic workers,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Sigey urged employers to give their domestic workers time off to register with the fund.
He said registration should be done at NHIF offices countrywide.
“If you have a domestic worker… just one, we allow you to register them as self employed but if you have several we encourage you to register them under the umbrella of you as an employer,” he advised.
“We shall need your (employer) ID photocopy and we shall need to know your personal Pin number to use it to give you something like an employer code. We created that platform to ease the burden of payment,” he added.
He however said they were working on a system where people can register online without having to physically appear at the NHIF offices.
For a domestic worker to register, Sigey said they needed a photocopy of their ID and that of the spouse (if any), birth certificate for declared dependants and passport size photos for the principal member and declared dependants.
“If you are in the informal sector, that is you are a domestic worker or you are self employed, your card is not valid for use immediately. We have a waiting period of 60 days before you start accessing the benefits,” he pointed out.
Those who employ domestic workers on a casual basis where they pay them daily or weekly rates were also encouraged to comply.
At the moment, the benefits that NHIF offers are predominantly for inpatient cover unless where negotiated with groups like it happened with civil servants and teachers.
The Ministry of Labour in June last year published guidelines governing employment of domestic workers following the passage of new rules by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Kenya is a member of ILO.
Under the NHIF Act, employers of domestic workers are required to deduct the contribution to the fund from the workers’ salaries before paying their salary.
Under the new labour guidelines which come into effect mid this year, employers are also expected to remit contributions to National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the statutory pension scheme for their domestic workers.