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Every modern sector company in Kenya has lost at least 33 jobs on average due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE).

What is worse, at the National level, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection data, shared with FKE, shows that 604 companies countrywide have let go of some of their employees due to the negative effects of Covid -19 on businesses. 

At least 60 FKE members – who are modern sector employers – have declared Covid-19 triggered redundancies.

Ms Jacqueline Mugo, the FKE executive director, said a survey on impact of covid-19 on its members shows that on average each organisation lost 33 jobs between March and August 2020.

The federation says at the national level, the 1.7million jobs lost estimate by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is a conservative figure.

The KNBS report shows that 83.6 per cent of the total workforce in Kenya comprises nformal workers, who are the most exposed in the pandemic.  “The reality is far worse than this,” Ms Mugo said in an email interview with the Nation as her organisation reacted to the shocking Sh410 billion new debt Kenya accumulated in the Covid-19 season.

The FKE says that even before Covid-19, it had already raised an alarm that companies were under stress and jobs were being lost. Covid-19 aggravated the situation.

“The reality however is that the worst is yet to come, as workers continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic, especially the consequences of the abrupt shutting down of economic activities,” Ms Mugo said.

Ms Mugo says last year alone FKE member companies declared 7,000 employees redundant, arising from various issues, among them mergers and acquisitions, change in regulatory environment in the transport and education sector.

The most recent FKE survey shows that the mean number of employees per organisation was 405 as of February 29, 2020. This dropped to 372 employees as of August 1, 2020.

“In addition, we are seeing a spike in the trade disputes reported in the Industrial Court and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection arising from the measures employers have taken to mitigate from the impact of the pandemic on businesses,” she said.

The courts have, however, urged employers and employees to dialogue.

“To date, 60 of our member companies have declared redundancies because of poor business performance occasioned by the effects of Covid-19. For instance, reduced demand for goods and services,” she said.

The world of work has been impacted severely by the imposition of lockdown measures, which include various forms of workplace closures.

“In addition to rising unemployment, global underemployment has also seen a substantial increase as businesses are forced to reduce work for their employees in order to minimise costs or losses as well as to observe government directives,” said Ms Mugo.