As the Covid-19 pandemic rages, many private hospitals are grappling with a different side-effect – financial problems.
The growing costs and shrinking revenues are now forcing hospitals to ask their employees to take a pay cut.
The issue has caused a push and pull between the health workers and their employers, with some moving to court through their unions.
The Nation has learned that several private hospitals in the country are feeling the economic crunch due to a decline in patients and suspension of elective surgeries, which contribute a huge chunk of their income.
Aga Khan University Hospital has communicated to its employees about plans for a pay cut. The MP Shah Hospital has also communicated the same to its employees.
“The pay cut will be effective from May 2020 and the gross salary will be adjusted downwards by the respective percentage and will be reviewed in three months,” read the memo signed by MP Shah Board Chairman Manoj Shah.
He added that should the hospital achieve its turnaround during the salary adjustment period, then the pay cut decision will be reversed.
The Nairobi Hospital, however, has taken a different approach. The facility has revised the working hours for its employees.
The hospital sent a memo to its staff informing them that due to the nature of the hospital's operations as a 24-hour essential services provider, all employees would be required to work 45 hours a week, up from 40 hours.
They were also asked to be flexible, depending on the required work arrangement and business exigencies.
WORK 40 HOURS
“In this regard and for the mutual benefit of our patients, the hospital, staff and all stakeholders, all employees who signed a contract of employment to work 40 hours a week will be required to sign an addendum to the employment contract to this effect,” the hospital told the staff.
The move by the hospital, however, has not been received well. The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has moved to court to stop the changes.
In a signed affidavit, the Nairobi KMPDU branch secretary, Dr Thuranira Kaugiria, said the facility is adamant that those who fail to comply with the new policy could face adverse action, including citation, disciplinary action, victimisation and or termination.
Justice Stephen Radido has suspended the move by the hospital and slated the matter for mention on June 2.
When he recently announced measures to battle the pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta released Sh2.66 billion to the Ministry of Health, saying part of the money would go towards the welfare of health workers, including insurance, to deal with the negative impact of the disease.
The issue of money is now taking centre-stage, with health workers from 17 cadres set to commence a strike on Monday over allowances.
Leaders of the Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers and Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists have said they will down their tools if their grievances are not addressed by today.