Religious queries changed

Government employment applications in the Cayman Islands will no longer require job-seekers to state their religious affiliation, according to officials with the Portfolio of the Civil Service.

Deputy Head of the Civil Service Peter Gough has confirmed that question and others that could be considered discriminatory or unnecessary at the application stage have been deleted or restated on the new job application forms.

Mr. Gough said those application forms would be in use shortly.

‘For example, there is no requirement for a photograph (of the applicant) or a statement of religious affiliation,’ Mr. Gough wrote in an e-mail to the Caymanian Compass last week, explaining changes to the applications. ‘We have also aimed to ensure that the information requested is more useful for recruitment purposes.’

There will be a guidance document provided to job applicants to help fill out the form, Mr. Gough said.

The issue about whether a job-seeker’s religion was necessary information for an application form was discussed in two reports issued by the Cayman Islands Human Rights’ Committee last year.

The conclusion of one case, which had been brought to the HRC by Luis Luarca, noted the religious affiliation question ‘could…conceivably present an opportunity to discriminate on the basis of religion.’

The second case involved a Rastafarian man’s government employment contract, which proposed adding a clause prohibiting him from speaking about his religion at work. The government later removed the clause.

‘Save in cases where being of a particular religion is an appropriate requirement for a post; the HRC believes these questions serve no useful purpose,’ wrote attorney James Austin-Smith in one of the 2006 reports.

Shortly after the HRC reports were issued, Governor Stuart Jack indicated that it was time for a change.

‘I don’t think the religious beliefs of an individual should be relevant to their application for a government job,’ Mr. Jack said during a Compass interview in January.

The governor appoints the Cayman Islands Chief Secretary, who operates as the official head of the civil service.

Cayman Islands Civil Service Association President James Watler previously said his group has no problem with the religious affiliation question remaining in the job application forms.

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