LAW

Job seekers may soon not require clearance certificates

Public funded institutions have been collecting over Sh750million every year from job seekers

In Summary
  • Previously, jobs seekers were tasked with the responsibility of running criminal background checks on themselves so as to secure a mere job interview.
  • If the employment amendment bill comes into law, employers shall no longer perceive job seekers as a criminal before they apply for a job.
This unemployed BCom (accounting option) graduate was among job-seekers who congregated at Uhuru Park recently to draw attention to their plight.
DESPERATION: This unemployed BCom (accounting option) graduate was among job-seekers who congregated at Uhuru Park recently to draw attention to their plight.
Image: JACK OWUOR

If you are applying for a job in any government institution in Kenya, you spend at least Sh5,000 for clearance certificates from various agencies.

This is even before you begin the interview process.

However, things may soon change if the employment amendment bill comes into law.

In the proposed amendments, employers will no longer ask job seekers for documents such as Kenya Revenue Authority, Directorate of Criminal Investigations,  Higher Education Loans Board, Credit Reference Bureau and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission clearance certificates until or an unless an offer of employment is guaranteed.

Previously, jobs seekers were tasked with the responsibility of running criminal background checks on themselves so as to secure a job interview.

“Job seeking should not be an adventure where job seekers must prove that they are not criminals or haven't engaged in any crime in the past,” said MP Gideon Keter.

Keter said the country is not graduating criminals from universities and colleges every year but young men and women who are ready to offer their skills and knowledge to the nation.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Office(PBO), public funded institutions have been collecting over Sh750million every year from job seekers.

“This is a clear indication that they have been milking job seekers, most of them graduates, for years yet there is not a single cent that has been sent back to youth-empowerment programmes,” said Keter, who is also the Organising Secretary, Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association.

In a statement, he said Kenya should pick the best practices from other jurisdictions that have relieved their graduates from this financial burden.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, its only when you become successful at an interview and are offered a job that you will be required to carry out a series of employment checks depending on the type of job you are going to undertake.

In the United States, the states of Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Vermont have enacted laws that expressly prohibit employers from requiring applications to pay for their own background checks.

In Iowa, the law makes employers responsible for paying for criminal history checks similar to Lousiana, where the employers also pay for other searches or checks made on applicants or existing employees.

Keter recommended that employees should  first give the graduates jobs then ask for clearance documents.

“Nobody should be denied a job because someone suspects them of being of being a criminal” he said.