Only 65 private companies are authorised to place Kenyans in jobs abroad as government seeks to end mistreatment of workers abroad, Labour secretary Ukur Yatani says.
Speaking when ministry officials met owners of recruitment agencies at the Coast in Mombasa, Mr Yatani said all firms must comply with the new regulations.
He noted that many firms at the Coast have not fully complied with the legal and policy framework, which has lead to the emergence of bogus recruitment agencies.
“Agencies especially in Nairobi have fully complied with the regulatory framework but very little is said at the Coast.
“Those wishing to engage in recruitment must familiarise themselves with the new requirement and regulations,” Mr Yatani said.
The CS said due to past challenges — which resulted in a ban on export of labour in September 2014 — a task force was set up to review the management of foreign employment.
It was to propose short, medium and long-term interventions to address challenges in the sector.
“In April 2016, the government lifted the ban on export of all categories except domestic and low skilled cadres.
“Any engagement of this vulnerable group will only be allowed with countries which have signed a bilateral agreement with Kenya,” Mr Yatani said.
The CS said such workers will be subjected to a mandatory pre-departure training and verification of their contracts of employment before leaving Kenya.
“This will protect domestic and low skilled cadres from any mistreatment, abuse or job scam. Job-seekers should be informed of what they are signing up for and the conditions of work abroad,” Mr Yatani insisted.
He said the recommendations of the task force have been implemented by his ministry and some of the accomplished control measures include the establishment of the inter-ministerial vetting committee to vet registration of private recruitment agencies.
“The committee has only approved and registered 65 private recruitment agencies to recruit and place Kenyan workers abroad.
“The agencies have fully complied with the new regulatory framework. Migrant workers must undergo mandatory pre-departure training to acquaint them with the new environment,” the CS added.
Labour ministry attaches have been posted to the Middle East, he said, including to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to check on the welfare of Kenyan workers, he added.
Hundreds of Kenyan migrant workers are in the Middle East countries working as domestic workers, cleaners, drivers, chefs among other cadres.
But many who have returned home have told of mistreatment, torture and abuse by their employers, with some blaming recruiting agencies for the predicament.