Millions of workers across Kenya will soon receive a pay increase after the President asked the Ministry of Labour to raise the national minimum wage by 6% as he spoke during the 2024 Labour Day celebrations held at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on 1st May.

Such minimum wage, recognised by law, is the base level of pay that employers are required to pay certain employees in minimum wage-earning positions, and President William Ruto said that the cash boost in the legal minimum wage is part of the government’s initiative to uplift the welfare of those workers.

Although the national minimum wage does not necessarily reflect the real living wage, the product of the cost of living in the country, as they are usually lower, they have long been used as a tool to ensure that workers receive a fair rate of pay for their labour services.

A fairer minimum wage that slightly matches or exceeds the living costs increases the work productivity of low-income individuals since it improves employee morale and work ethic, promotes their peace of mind, and can have a lasting and positive effect on their standard of living as an enabler of moving out of poverty, I wrote, during a review of the minimum wages in Kenya as of 2023.

The last time Kenya raised its wage floors was on 1st May 2022, when Uhuru Kenyatta, the former President, was still in office, meaning the latest update came after two years exactly;

The monthly pay rates for low-paid workers in the minimum wage scale vary depending on location, as those in places like Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, the cities, earn more than their counterparts in other areas.

For instance, before the recently directed revision, general labourers, which include house helps, cleaners, sweepers, and gardeners, had their wages at Ksh15,201.65 per month in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru Cities, but their counterparts in most parts of rural Kenya and small towns earned Ksh8,109.90 after a similar duration of work.

Now, the general labourers in those cities will be earning Ksh16,113.75 monthly as the others in other areas take home Ksh8,596.49.

In the now past, miners, stone cutters, turnboys, waiters and waitresses in the cities and some big towns of Kenya, like Eldoret, made Ksh16,417.90 per month or Ksh148 hourly and that will increase by a merger Ksh985.07 to be Ksh17,402.97 monthly or Ksh156.88 per hour when the new national minimum wage gets raised officially.

Away from that, the lowest-paid night guard used to earn Ksh9,672.70/month, while the salary of the highest-paid watchman in Nairobi was Ksh16,959. After the update, their monthly pay will be Ksh10,253.50 and Ksh17,976.54, respectively.