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EABL employees get Sh36,000 free beer yearly as benefits

Employees of East African Breweries (EABL) are given Sh36,000 worth of alcoholic products for free each year as part of their staff benefits, the brewer says in its latest annual report.

The allowance, which costs the brewer nearly Sh58 million each year, is meant to acquaint staff with the company’s brands.

“All employees are eligible to receive a discretionary choice from a select product range to enable them to experience the company brands first hand,” EABL said in the report.

“The value of the products is Sh3,000 per month. There is no cash alternative to product allowance and it is not a contractual benefit.”

The brewer manufactures and distributes a wide range of alcohol products including brands such as Tusker, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Serengeti.

At Sh3,000 a month, the product allowance amounts to Sh36,000 annually for each of the company’s 1,600 workers. The brewer has set the amount at the maximum level at which the benefit will not attract income taxes.

Non-cash benefits offered to staff are not taxable unless they exceed Sh3,000 a month, according to Kenya Revenue Authority guidelines.

STOCK-IN-TRADE

EABL and other companies have offered their stock-in-trade to employees for free or at a discount as part of their staff retention strategies. Banks, for instance, give loans to their employees at below-market rates.

Free alcohol is among the items that make EABL a generous employer, especially for its executives who enjoy one of the longest lists of pay packages.

The brewer’s executives have a base salary, stock options, fixed allowances (such as cars and club memberships) and bonuses. EABL chief executive Andrew Cowan, for instance, earned a total of Sh171 million in the year ended June.

“The EABL reward system seeks to recognise the contribution its employees make towards the success of the company while reflecting not only the value of the roles they perform but also the level to which they perform them,” the brewer said in the report.