Writer Annie Dillard once said, how we spend our days, is how we spend our lives. For many of us, a large portion of our time is spent at work. Averagely, people spend more than 8 hours a day at work, five days a week. Some professions require more hours to get the job done. Therefore, it is safe to say that our work-life affects our overall well-being and performance in other aspects of life.

If you are going to spend that much time working, a third of your life to be specific, there need to be a form of procedure that guarantees your rights extend to the workplace. Business human rights do not just extend to employees, but customers as well, who are the reason businesses stay running.

What is business human rights?

Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that protect us all. They are based on dignity, fairness, equality, and respect. These rights also extend to business, whether you are an employee, or a customer using a good or service. These rights impact on the way we live our life and enjoy it.

Businesses have the power to influence policies that abuse human rights. In fact, the most common human rights violations stem directly from their business practices.

Article 20 (1) of the Kenyan Constitution states that ‘the Bill of Rights applies to all and binds all State organs and persons; further in Article 260 it defines ‘person’ as including ‘a company, association or other body of persons whether incorporated or unincorporated’.

Companies, therefore, have a duty to ensure that they respect rights such as the right to privacy and uphold data protection laws and generally treat their customers with dignity and respect in all their undertakings.

In the training we conducted in 2019, our participants had identified the following issues in relation to business and human rights:

  1. Education on terms and Conditions – There has been little awareness on some of the Terms & Conditions that some of these products/services or apps provide. Most people do not read the fine print and/or read but do not understand.
  2. Blacklisting on Credit Reference Bureau – Credit institutions list people on CRB without proper notice. Once one gets on the CRB list, getting clearance is a hassle.
  3. Moral issues- A lot of people are getting into gambling and online gaming. It was deduced that advertising should be regulated and/or not done during prime-time hours, but is it effective?
  4. Illiteracy of the users of Money Lending Apps such as Branch, Tala and Okash.
  5. The Huduma number issue-The state is conducting a massive registration of persons. There is little information on why they need certain details and what the information will be used for.
  6.  Apple was fined for slowing down old iPhones, which they had been doing for a while.
  7. The Chinese restaurant owner whose video of him whipping an employee in the workplace spread online.
  8. Businesses exploiting artists and interns in the name of providing exposure and work experience
  9. Data privacy issues – These include money lending apps such as the Fuliza Service Safaricom product which informs a sender that the person they are sending money to has a loan. There are also apps that send messages to your contacts and ask them to tell you to pay your loan.

Many people are not aware of their business human rights, and as such, we will be hosting a webinar on Thursday 13th August, to discuss the state of business human rights in Kenya. The aim of the webinar is to educate and sensitize the public on their human rights and businesses, on the importance of respecting the rights of their employees and customers. By including these organizations, they become part of the solution. The webinar will draw experts from civil society, the legal fraternity and the government, to offer their expert opinions on they are doing to mitigate human rights violations and the way forward. To register, please fill in the registration form.

Panel:

James Wamathai – Director partnerships, BAKE (moderator)
Mercy Sumbi- Digital Rights Advocate, MS Law Kenya.
Claris Kariuki- Senior State Counsel; Office of the Attorney general and Department of Justice
Liz Orembo- Tech Policy Associate,  KICTANet

Details:

  • Topic: Business Human Rights in Kenya (part1)
  • Date: 13th August 2020
  • Time: 11am-1pm