Today’s Editorial for February 3: Work permit rules welcome

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said recently the Immigration Department intends to attempt to reduce the number work permits in Cayman held by people who are not working full-time jobs.

It seems two groups in particular, domestic helpers and construction workers, are often being given work permits for what amounts to part-time or temporary work.

There are several problems with that scenario. First, things are expensive here in the Cayman Islands and if people – especially people in labourer positions – do not have full-time work here, they will find it hard to make ends meet financially. This could lead to problems if people have to resort to crimes to make ends meet.

Secondly, the country doesn’t need unnecessary people living here because we have severe infrastructure limitations as it is.

Lastly, by bringing in unnecessary expatriate workers, it only compounds the social problem of having Caymanians feel out-numbered in their own country.

But rather than blame the expatriate workers themselves who accept these jobs – perhaps with the promise of getting full-time work – we must look at the employers as the source of this problem. And, in almost all cases, the employer is Caymanian.

Mr. Manderson noted that in some cases with domestic helpers, applications are going in stating the applicant will take care of children when there are no children at the employer’s home; or that they will take care of sick people when no one at the home is sick. These cases cannot be blamed on the applicant, for it is the employer who submits the application.

Such behaviour on the part of employers should warrant more than just a permit being turned down; making false declarations on a work permit application is a crime and the Immigration Department should seek prosecution of those crimes.

In cases where an employee is given full-time work but a subsequent downturn in business occurs, reducing hours to what amounts to part-time work, then employers should be required to advise the Immigration Department of the change. Those employees should be given a chance to find another job on the Island, either shared or in full with another employer, or, if additional work cannot be found, have their work permit cancelled.

Given the challenges this country is facing because of the global economic crisis, the last thing we need are idle hands tempted to join the devil’s workshop.