Pensions enquiry launched

An inquiry into the lack of pension benefits for long-serving contracted civil servants has been launched.

‘I am interested to know the scope of the situation so that there can be an informed public discussion on the way forward,’ said Complaints Commissioner John Epp.

The inquiry comes after people who have worked for the civil service for long periods and who started out as expatriates, but who now have status, approached the Office of the Complaints Commissioner.

Those people – thought to number between 125 and 150 – were expatriates, but were hired locally or were the spouses of people hired from abroad, said Mr. Epp.

They were on local contracts, did not have any pension entitlement, did not pay into a pension fund and the government did not pay into a pension fund for them, he said.

That was how contracts were written back in the 1970s and ’80s, he said.

As a result, people could have worked for 20 years to 25 years on a contract basis, have earned the right to be a citizen, given a lifetime of service in their career, and yet have no pension, he said.

He said that some might say that that those people knew the deal at the time, but said: ‘over the years our view of fairness matures.

‘People might also say ‘they have not paid in so why should they be entitled to anything’ and that’s one of the factors we are looking at.

‘We are just making an inquiry so that we can know the extent of the situation.

‘We are interested in knowing how many people are involved. We want to document their cases and then provide a report to the Legislative Assembly to give them the facts,’ he said.

The inquiry was launched after three people contacted his office about the problem and indicated there were many people in similar situations.

The ombudsman’s office is urging people who might have grievances that have arisen since the creation of the ombudsman’s office in July 2004, to come forward, and it can be done on a confidential basis.

Mr. Epp’s office would like, if possible within the next three months, to speak to everyone involved.

Staff member Petula Twinn (telephone 943-2220 or PO Box 2252 GT) has been appointed as lead analyst.

Mr. Epp said the Chief Secretary’s office and the Chief Officer of the Civil Service have already been contacted; both had pledged their cooperation in the fact-finding mission.

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