Housekeeper protections are restored

Cayman Islands Government has reinstated directives aimed at protecting the jobs of Caymanian janitors and housekeepers who work in the tourism industry.

According to the Immigration (Janitorial Services) Directions 2007, approved late last year by Cabinet, business staffing plans and work permits would only be approved for janitorial firms that cleaned private homes and commercial buildings not including hotels, condominiums or any other tourist accommodation.

Similarly, the Trade and Business Licensing Directions were updated to prevent the issuance of such a licence to a firm that used employees on work permits to clean hotels, condos, or other tourist accommodation.

The directions do not apply to workers that clean windows, carpets or upholstery at any location, including hotels and condos.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts previously said that these directions had been in effect for some time, but stated in October that they were apparently removed by the Trade and Business Licensing Board unbeknownst to Cabinet members.

The issue sparked controversy earlier in the year when a group of Caymanian housekeepers showed up at Legislative Assembly complaining their jobs had been outsourced to janitorial firms by two condo complexes.

Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said at least 12 housekeepers had lost their positions at Regal Beach and Lacovia condos. Mr. Clifford said at least two housekeepers at Regal Beach had since been reinstated and paid all overtime they were previously owed.

The two condo complexes have repeatedly refused to comment about the situation when contacted by the Caymanian Compass.

Mr. Tibbetts has said it was an unusual step for the government to intervene in a private business’s employment decisions. However, he said this prohibition regarding housekeeping staff that work in the tourism industry has existed for some time and was well known in the industry.

He said the Trade and Business Licensing Board’s initial decision to remove the protections for housekeepers was not ill-intended, and was made from the perspective of trying to protect small businesses.

But he said concern for the housekeepers’ livelihood took precedent.

‘We have to protect them,’ Mr. Tibbetts said during a 25 October Cabinet press briefing. ‘It is not easy for them to find other jobs at this point and time in their lives.’