The Federation was formed as a central body of employers in 1959. It is registered under the Trade Unions Act (Cap 233) of the Laws of Kenya. It is the apex body of employers in Kenya.
Its principal objects are to:
- Promote good industrial relations between employers and their employees through their trade unions;
- Encourage fair labour practices among the employers;
- Provide forum for consultation between and among members;
- Collect and circulate information and statistics and advise members on their rights and obligations on employment matters
- Initiate, promote and support legislative measures which are likely to benefit employers or to promote their interests;
- Represent, advocate and defend the interest of employers generally.
Unions mainly depend on membership participation and they must of necessity include service. FKE membership is open to all employers in both public and private sectors upon payment of membership fee, an annual subscription and a building levy. Both the annual subscription and the building levy are based on the number of employees engaged by the employer. FKE is a member of ILO, International Organization of Employees (IOE) and Pan-African Employers Confederation (PAEC). There are four main categories of membership for the purposes of negotiations. There are several rates for trade associations, religious and charitable organizations.
Membership is not constant since new members join, others withdraw while others may be expelled. The four categories of membership are:
- Individual Firms and Companies. These are the business organizations which prefer to negotiate or deal with the trade unions directly. They may or may not have common industrial or trade interests with other business organizations.
- Groups of Companies or Firms. These are individual member companies or firms, which are voluntarily grouped together for the purpose of negotiations with their commonly recognized trade union. They are organizations with similar industrial or trade interests.
- Employer Associations. These are associations registered under the laws as employer associations but they are affiliated to FKE for purposes of industrial relations. They have their own constitutions and rules. Some of them receive secretarial services from FKE and some provide their own secretarial and administrative services.
- Statutory Boards. These include parastatal bodies. They negotiate or deal with trade unions in the same way as any private company and they participate fully in the affairs of FKE.
The structure of FKE
The Management Board comprises of thirty members, who represent the broad industrial and geographical interests of the membership. The Management Board controls the business and affairs of FKE. The board may delegate its powers as it may see it fit to the Executive Committee which consists of the Chairman, two Deputy Chairmen, three Vice-Chairmen, the immediate Past Chairmen and not more than twenty-four members elected annually by members in addition to co-opted members. The day to day running of FKE business and affairs is the responsibility of the Executive Director who is also the Secretary to both Management Board and Executive Committee
Functions of FKE
FKE is the only representative of employers recognized by the Government. Its functions are:
- Representation on Tripartite and other Boards. FKE is recognized by the Government as the employers’ representative outside the civil service. FKE serves and represents the interests of employers on the following tripartite boards:
- The General Wages Advisory Board and other sectoral Wage Councils
- The National Social Security Fund Advisory Board
- The National Industrial Training Council and its various committees
- The Tripartite Committee dealing with Trade Disputes
- Secretarial services. FKE acts as secretariat to a number of trade associations.
- Consultancy Services. FKE’s Executive staff assist members in negotiations with their trade unions by providing up-to-date data acting as their spokesman or by agreement as chairman of joint negotiating committee; drafting collective bargaining agreements and following them up for registration by the Industrial Court. They also assist members at conciliation meetings, prepare memoranda in respect of trade disputes and represent them in the Industrial Court.
- FKE offers training to the staff members and the executives of its member’s organizations. This is in line with their belief that training of personnel is necessary for the promotion of productivity and good industrial relations.
- Industrial Stability. FKE is one of the social signatories to the Industrial Relations Charter which is a social contract between the social partners government, employers and workers. It spells out the rights and responsibilities of the signatories in the management of industrial relations in Kenya.
- Creation of Employment. FKE has been associated with the tripartite agreements for temporary relief of unemployment.
- Dissemination of Information. One of FKE’s major functions is to keep its members well informed of the developments in matters relating to employment, like changes in labour laws, and the policy decisions which are of interest to them.