Refused permit irks businessman

A work permit application refused because of medical reasons for a mechanical design engineer from the United Kingdom has angered Androgroup Ltd. owner Alan Roffey.

The engineer suffered two convulsions after a fractured skull sustained in a motorcycle accident in 1993. He has suffered no convulsions in more than a decade, but still takes medication to prevent relapses. He is otherwise in good health.

Convulsions are a common symptom from fractured skull injuries.

In the refusal letter issued by the Work Permit Board on 21 October, it states the Board gave consideration to the protection of local interest as well as the requirements of the community as a whole.

‘The Board also took into consideration the information supplied on the medical accompanying the application which refers to the fact that the applicant was treated and continues to be on medication for convulsions, and was not satisfied that it was in the best interest of the community as a whole to grant the work permit.’

The letter advised Androgroup to seek an alternative employee with a ‘satisfactory medical’.

‘It appears they only want perfect humans here,’ Mr. Roffey said, noting many people probably take medications for heart conditions, diabetes, or many other medical conditions that could potentially impact a person as much as the engineer’s medication.

‘I’m willing to bet you can’t find anyone over 50 who doesn’t take something for something,’ he said.

Mr. Roffey said it is hard enough to find professionals to come here these days without turning them away for medical reasons such as this one.

‘It’s not easy to find engineers in any discipline at the moment. The U.K. is booming, the U.S. is booming, Asia is booming,’ he said, noting that engineers can often make more money elsewhere.

The engineer has been working in Cayman since January on a temporary permit.

‘His medication doesn’t affect his job,’ Mr. Roffey said. ‘I’ve never seen anything but full and normal attention from him.’

Mr. Roffey said the engineer provides a supervisory role with the Androgroup, doing things like labour management and purchasing, and that he does a good job.

‘We want to keep him.’

Androgroup lost its previous mechanical engineer when he received Caymanian Status and opened his own business. The company also lost several other employees because they received Status, and several after Hurricane Ivan.

‘The island was not what they signed up for after Ivan,’ Mr. Roffey said.

It took more than six months to recruit the engineer, Mr. Roffey said.

‘(The recruitment) started in July 2004, and then after Ivan, I had to convince him it was still OK to come,’ he said.

Prior to the recent refusal letter received by Androgroup, the Work Permit Board had sent another refusal letter on 23 August denying the permit because it claimed his medical had stated he had been treated for a sexually transmitted disease.

The text of that letter was similar to the text of 21 October letter.

‘The Board also took into consideration the information supplied on the medical accompanying the application which refers to the fact that the applicant was treated for a sexually transmitted disease, and was not satisfied that it was in the best interest of the community as a whole to grant the work permit.’

Mr. Roffey said the engineer had never had a sexually transmitted disease and that his medical did not indicate otherwise.

After writing the Work Permit Board advising them they had made an error, the Board sent a letter of acknowledgement.

‘Further to your e-mail regarding the wording of our letter dated 23 August 2005, which erroneously referred to a sexually transmitted disease. After careful review, it was determined that the application was in fact refused, but the reasons as communicated to you was indeed an administrative error – for this I also apologise. Please accept the attached refusal letter as a replacement for our letter of 23 August 2005.’

Even if that refusal letter is in error, Mr. Roffey did not like the inference of denying a permit because a person had once had a sexually transmitted disease.

‘It’s discriminatory,’ he said. ‘Are they saying a person has no morality if they had had a sexually transmitted disease?’

Mr. Roffey pointed out that people could also get sexually transmitted diseases from unfaithful partners or even from toilet seats.

Using these kinds of medical reasons for turning down permits could have negative effects, Mr. Roffey said.

‘It could force people to start not telling the truth on their medicals, which would be a disaster,’ Mr. Roffey said. ‘It is also making it very difficult to run a business here.’

When contacted for clarification about he ruling, Chairman of the Work Permit Board David Ritch said the Board does not comment on specific applications.

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