Labor Laws: Decent Wages for Construction Workers:

There is no better day to talk about wages and salary than on Labor Day or there about. Many have raised the issue on how much construction workers should be paid on daily or weekly basis etc. If anyone watched President Uhuru Kenyatta Labor Day speech (05/01/2017), probably you heard that there is going to be an increase of 18% on the minimum wage, from 7,500/= to 13,000/= monthly. Minimum wage is the lowest possible return or income that a worker is entitled to, by law, in a given country. It’s actually an offense or even a crime, to pay anything less than minimum wages for work done.

Construction work or a regular work week starts from Monday to Friday (5 days a week) with weekends being off days. A normal work-day is 8 hours, normally from 8 a.m. to 5p.m. with a 1 hour break or lunch period. A month roughly has an average of 30 days across the calendar; therefore, there are about 23 working days in any given month. This yield a wage bill of 565/= per day for the lowest paid worker in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). For convenience, we shall round the number up to 600/= per day. But really what is a fair wage in AEC?

What Makes Up a Wage Bill?

A wage bill is made up of numerous components depending on the type of job one is engaged in. The basic structure of a wage bill includes:

  1. Basic Rate
  2. Fringes
    • Medical Insurance (NIHF)
    • Retirement Fund (NSSF)
    • Income Tax (KRA)
    • Workers Compensation Insurance
    • Allowances:
      1. Travel/Automobile
      2. Entertainment/Leisure
      3. House Allowance etc.
  1. Overtime Pay (Time and half of the regular pay time)
Labor Laws: Decent Wages for Construction Workers: | Slip 5 | Pinned Directory Kenya
An Example of Salary Slip

The Basic Rate is the amount of money that would enable one to function and operate normally and be able to perform the basic or essential function of the job. They include provision of basic necessities like Shelter, food, clothing and transportation. For the purposes of demonstration, we shall take a random city or town in Kenya, like Kisumu for example (City A), and try weighing the values of monthly expenses, of a one bedroom apartment, and other estimated monthly expenses.


  • One Bedroom apartment (10,000/=)
  • Monthly Food basket (9,000/=)
  • Monthly Clothing expenses (5,000/=)
  • Transportation, monthly two way ticket (2,500/=)

Subtotal Basic Rate for the month is 26,500/= per month.


  • Basic Rate: 26,500/=
  • NIHF: 1,000/=
  • NSSF @ 12% =3,180/=
  • Income Tax @ 10% = 2,650/=
  • Workers Comp. Insurance @ 1% = 265/=

TOTAL MONTHLY WAGE BILL = 33,595/= (For the average Kenya worker in City A)

Number of working days in a month = 23 days

Therefore, Decent Daily Wages = 1.460/= per day (Round Up to 1,500/= per day)

Summarily, the fair wage for construction workers in a City A, above would be as follows:

  • Skilled Construction Workers: 1,500/= per day
  • Semi-Skilled Labor: 1,000/= per day
  • Unskilled Labor: 600/= per day

Now, with increased building certification processes provided by the National Construction Authority (NCA), we see workers increasing their skills and being more useful in the industry, with increased credentials and many other things. In Nairobi, for example, we see masons, plumbers and electricians charge up to 3,000/= per day and so on. Wages bill is determined by many factors such as location, current living index in that location, that is, housing, food and other basic needs, and also on the level of training and skill of the workers, among other factors.


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