COTU Rejects State’s Bid For Employers To Pay Workers’ NHIF

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli

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The Central Organisation of Trade Unions has rejected the bid by the government to compel employers to pay NHIF for their workers.

Cotu and its 45 affiliates have rejected the NHIF (Amendment) Bill, 2021 sponsored by Majority leader Amos Kimunya in totality saying it is retrogressive.

The workers union argument is that the bill will disband NHIF and bring up an amorphous body with a new mandate and new objectives.

Cotu said in a statement on Tuesday that the NHIF mandate would change as the bill seeks to turn it from a fund into a scheme.

“This is against the wish of Kenyan workers who are the contributing members of NHIF,” unionists said following a meeting in Nairobi.

The NHIF Bill, 2021 provides that employers will pay contributions for their staffers and not deduct the same from the employees’ pay.

“A person liable to pay a matching contribution shall pay such contributions in their capacity as an employer and shall not deduct such contribution from the salary or other remuneration of the employee,” the Bill reads.

“No sum deducted from the salary of an employee by an employer shall be recoverable from the employer by that person once remitted to the Fund.”

Employers failing to remit contributions will be penalised 25 per cent of the contribution.

“The employer will be liable to pay the penalty and costs incurred by the employee when seeking treatment from a contracted healthcare provider during the period when the contribution is due,” the Bill reads.

Currently, NHIF contributions are voluntary while employees have contribution deducted from their gross pay every month.

The proposed law is among steps being taken by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration to bolster the Big Four agenda of Universal Health Coverage.

The unionists said they read ulterior motives on the side of initiators and promoters saying the NHIF should be keen effective use of what it already collects.

“The mandate of the NHIF should not be maximizing on the amounts they are collecting but it should be to effectively use the collected amounts,” they said.

COTU further questioned the place of the proposal providing for mandatory contributions by all Kenyans above 18 years.

They held that it was wrong to coerce Kenyans to contribute to any scheme.

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