Workers should not pay for permits

The owner of a construction company was fined $1,200 and ordered to pay $6,513 compensation after pleading guilty to receiving unlawful payments for work permits.

Finigan A. H. Archibold entered his pleas in Summary Court last week. He admitted receiving $3,988 from one employee between December 2006 and February 2008. He admitted received $2,525 from the other between July 2005 and February 2008.

Crown Counsel Richard Barton Jr. called the amounts extortionate after itemising them. He asked for compensation to the workers

He said Archibold was called to Immigration Headquarters and questions were put to him about deductions from the men’s pay. Archibold acknowledged the amounts and said he also collected $200 from each man for his Trade and Business licence.

In one case, amounts included $450 for the man’s temporary permit, $2,050 for his full permit and $300 interest. For the second man, Archibold received $200 for the first permit, $275 for an extension, $550 for a full permit and $1,500 for renewal.

Defence Attorney Lloyd Samson said Archibold, a Caymanian national, knew the men from Colombia. Although against Cayman law, the agreement for the men to pay for their permits was entered into freely by both parties.

The two men worked contentedly for two or three years and then there was a falling out, Mr. Samson explained. The employees failed to take instructions on the work site and Archibold fired them. Lo and behold, these charges arose.

The attorney submitted that the offences did not warrant imprisonment, He pointed out that Archibold, 40, had no previous convictions.

Magistrate Nova Hall said regardless of what was agreed, Archibold was a local man who knew the law in Cayman requires that fees be paid by the employer.

‘Frankly, sometimes I consider this extortion of the worst kind,’ the magistrate said. She called it taking advantage of people who want to better themselves — that, if they wanted to work, they had to pay.

In setting the fines at $600 per offence, she took into consideration Archibold’s guilty pleas and the fact he was saving the court some time. She ordered him to pay compensation through the court office.

Mr. Samson asked that his client be allowed to pay at the rate of $500 per month and this was granted.

The Immigration Law states: Where a work permit authorises the gainful occupation of a worker while he is in the service of an employer, any fees payable in respect of such work permit shall be paid by the employer. Any required security in respect of the entry of the worker into these islands shall also be paid for by the employer.

The law further states it is an offence for any employer to seek or receive from any worker money or other compensation or benefit as reimbursement for the work permit-related fees. It is an offence to seek a contribution toward those fees or make any deduction for fees from any pay due to the worker.

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