Are the ‘next of kin’ details in your HR file up-to-date?

Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo during a past press conference. PHOTO | FILE |
Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo during a past press conference. PHOTO | FILE |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

When Mr Aggrey Okoth landed a job at a private firm in Nairobi 15 years ago, he was single.

As many do, he provided the name of a parent –– his mother –– as the next of kin. But she died in 2009.

Mr Okoth is now married with two children, but the records with his employer remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, 45-year-old Hillary Onsoti provided the name of his wife as next of kin in 2005. They divorced three years later, and he now has a new wife and two children. But the details with his employer indicate he is still married to the first wife.

The two men are among thousands of Kenyans whose employee records remain static although their civil status has changed.

The situation poses a major risk of possible family strain were either of them to die while in their current employment.

Experts say that such a situation puts an employee’s beneficiaries at a disadvantage and gives an advantage to employers who are not keen to remit their employees’ benefits.

Federation of Kenya Employers executive director Jacqueline Mugo and Mr Epimach Maritim, the human resource and change director at G4S Kenya, caution that outdated employee records can be a time bomb.

Employees to blame

According to Mrs Mugo, employees are sometimes to blame for failing to update their details as required.

“Much as the law places the burden of keeping records on the employer, workers should still be quick to upgrade their details particularly when they get married or get children,” she said.

Section 74 of the Employment Act lists at least 12 details that an employer should have about an employee at any given time.

“An employer shall keep a written record of all employees employed by him, with whom he has entered into a contract under this Act which shall contain the [12] particulars . . . [and] any other particulars required to be kept under any written law or as may be prescribed by the Minister,” it says.

Mrs Mugo says the burden the law places on employers calls for a centralised data-sharing system.

“Because the details we have are shared with other bodies such as the National Social Security Fund, I look forward to the day when Kenya will borrow from developed countries and keep a system where all the details of a person are kept at one central place and updated accordingly,” she said.

The FKE boss said employees are not always willing to change their particulars, especially when they involve a polygamous man.