To help prevent non-compliance with certain provisions in the Immigration Law, the Business Staffing Plan Board last week said it would require employers with staffing plans to file new forms outlining training programmes for Caymanians.
The action comes as a result of increasing concerns that some employers are not complying with the law in creating and implementing training programmes for Caymanians.
These training programmes are required for the grant of some work permits when the Business Staffing Plan Board has taken the view that there are Caymanians available to be trained for a particular post.
A press release issued by the Business Staffing Plan Board said the requirements were being ignored in some cases.
‘In many instances when seeking a work permit, the employer will advise the Board that a Caymanian has been identified to be trained for a particular post, but in fact neither the Caymanian nor the work permit holder have been advised by the employer that such a commitment has been made,’ the release stated.
When the work permit for the position comes up for renewal, the Business Staffing Board is told things like the Caymanian has fallen behind and that further training over a longer period is necessary, the press release stated.
‘The Board recognises that in some cases this will be true, but it is also aware that this is sometimes a tactic used by the employer to retain the services of the work permit holder for a continued period.’
Effective immediately, the Business Staffing Plan Board requires all employers under staffing plans to file a new form specifying the nature and scope of the training being undertaken for the Caymanian identified for a particular post, and the anticipated timeframe to complete such training.
The form must be signed by the Caymanian to be trained, the work permit holder of the post for which the Caymanian is being trained, and the employer.
The completed and signed form must then be filed with the Business Staffing Plan Board at the commencement of the training programme.
Business Staffing Plan Board chairwoman Sherri Bodden Cowan indicated there could be harsh consequences for employers who did not comply with the training provisions.
‘The Board takes its responsibility to closely monitor the future training and progress of Caymanians very seriously,’ she said. ‘Employers should be aware that failure to comply with the requirements… may result in the application for the grant or renewal of a work permit being refused under Regulation 6(2) by the Board.’
Mrs. Bodden Cowan also pointed out that the extended deadline for filing Business Staffing Plans for those companies required to do so had technically passed on 30 June.
Business Staffing Plans are required for all businesses that employ 15 or more work permit holders.
The plans are optional for other companies.
To date, there have been 61 plans approved, Mrs. Bodden Cowan said.
Prior to Hurricane Ivan, Immigration records showed there were 90 companies that had at least 15 work permit holders.
That figure has risen since Ivan, Mrs. Bodden Cowan said, largely because of the increase in work permit holders in construction companies doing hurricane repair work.
Mrs. Bodden Cowan said it is possible that the deadline could be extended another time.
Regardless, Mrs. Bodden Cowan said employers could benefit from having the plans in place because work permit grants and renewals are only taking two to three weeks to process through the Business Staffing Plan Board.
By contrast, because of the high number of submitted work permit applications, the time to get a renewal of a permit through the Immigration Board is 15 to 16 weeks, Mrs. Bodden Cowan said.
One of the purposes of creating the Business Staffing Plan Board was to take some of the pressure off the Immigration Board.
‘The more work permit applications we can bring over to the Business Staffing Plan Board, the less the Immigration Board will have to deal with,’ she said.