•Discriminating against employee in an adverse way would be an offence.
•Denying qualified persons job opportunities, and failing to accommodate PWDs also a crime.
Nearly a million people living with disability in Kenya are set for a major win in their fight for equity.
The government is now proposing a radical law that will enhance their fortunes in employment and business.
MPs are considering a state-backed bill which, among others, proposes that every employer – public and private – will be required to reserve at least five per cent of direct employment opportunities for PLWDs.
In the present law, the National Council for PLWDs is only required to secure the reservation of casual, emergency, and contractual jobs.
But that could change should MPs approve the proposal in the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2022, sponsored by Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.
Employers would thus be required to “carry out appropriate modifications in their work premises to accommodate persons with disabilities.”
Public and private entities would be compelled to make existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by PLWDs.
“The Council shall appoint an inspector who shall be empowered to investigate and recommend prosecution or other remedy against infringement of this Act,” the bill reads.
Compliant employers would get tax reliefs to recover the expenditure incurred on modifications, provided mobility aids among other assistive devices or equipment.
Employers would be required to restructure jobs and provide option for part-time jobs and flexible work schedules for the special interest group.
It would be considered discriminatory if an employer limits or classifies a job applicant or employee in an adverse way, denies qualified persons job opportunities, and failing to accommodate a PLWD.
The proposed law bans testing or examination of job applicants to ascertain if they are living with a disability or severity of the same.
“Every employer shall submit an annual report on the status of employment of persons with disabilities within their establishments to the council,” the bill reads.
“Every employer shall apply specific measures to employees with disabilities in promotions, training and other related matters arising in the course of, or through the length of employment.”
The proposed law also provides that PLWDs would be given preferential treatment in access to houses and markets built by the government.
“National and county governments, when constructing markets, would be required to reserve five percent of the stores to PLWDs,” the bill reads.
The bill, which repeals the existing disability laws, further provides that all media houses will dedicate at least one hour free airtime every month to educate the public on issues of disability.
It also bestows on the National Council of PLWDs to produce at least one column in the print media every month for the same purpose.
Every government agency would also be required to reserve five per cent of residential and commercial buildings for acquisition by persons with disability.
“The terms and conditions at such acquisition to persons with disabilities shall include interest free and longer periods of repayment,” the bill reads.
It also provides that no person with disability shall be dismissed or suffer any reduction in rank solely on the grounds of disability, acquiring any disability, or any consequences of the same.
Those placed under undue stress or disadvantage as a result of the disability would be eligible for a position at the same rank with adequate support.
In the event a PLWD is to be deployed but can’t fit in the new role, the organisation would be forced to retain them until a suitable post is available or until such persons reach retirement age.
The bill further enhances penalties for offences under the law to between Sh500,000 and Sh2 million or two years imprisonment – from the present Sh20,000 or one year in jail.
Parents who conceal their children on grounds of disability would be fined Sh200,000 when convicted of the offence, so would be those who deny PLWDs under their case food.
Also proposed is that county and national governments would be required to make public roads and highways accessible to persons with disabilities.
This would be by equipping pedestrian crossings with traffic control signals controlled by a pedestrian push-button system and providing traffic lights with audible signals.
All government Ministries, Departments and Agencies shall establish a Disability Mainstreaming Unit to handle disability issues and to conduct regular inspection to ensure compliance with the law.
For equal access, the bill provides that public and private facilities will implement standards and guidelines for accessibility of facilities and services.
The modifications would apply to all buildings and facilities used by the public, road and rail-based transport, aviation, maritime transport and ports, pedestrian infrastructure, and any public transport system.
“No individual, organisation or establishment shall be issued a certificate of completion or allowed to take occupation of a building if it has failed to comply with the standards and regulations,” the bill reads.
All new construction, modification or alterations on built environment immediately the new law comes into force shall fully comply with the standards, the bill says.
It also states that facilities shall be provided to persons with disabilities at bus parks, railway stations, air and sea ports that meet the accessibility standards.
This would be in respect of parking spaces, toilets, ticketing counters, ticketing machines and cruise facilities as well as provide access to all modes of transport that conforms to set standards.