Religious, personal questions removed

Newly revised job applications for the Cayman Islands civil service remove not only questions about religious affiliation, but also several queries of a more personal nature.

Mr. Gough

Mr. Gough

According to Deputy Head of the Civil Service Peter Gough, several questions were taken off the forms because they were determined to be discriminatory or simply unnecessary at the job application stage.

For instance, questions about the job seeker’s marital status were removed on the new forms. Those looking for government employment will still be asked how many dependants they have, but questions about how many are with them and how many will be joining them have been removed.

There are still questions about a job applicant’s immigration status on the front page of the application form. However, those have been limited to only two queries.

The previous form asked a list of 10 questions including: ‘Do you have Caymanian status?’ ‘If not, are you married to a Caymanian, or related to a Caymanian?’ and ‘What is the relationship of the Caymanian to you?’ All of those queries have now been taken off the form.

Religious affiliation questions have been removed, but questions about an applicant’s nationality remain.

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 Dr. 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.

The new job applications are also much longer and allow applicants more space to answer questions about issues like previous education, employment, training, and even allow space for a ‘personal statement.’ A three page explanatory document on how to fill out the application form is also included.

‘We have aimed to ensure that the information requested is more useful for recruitment purposes,’ Mr. Gough said.

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