Pensions law has ‘failed’

Fixed penalties likely for delinquent employers

The
National Pensions Law has failed to protect employees in Cayman and needs a
total overhaul, Premier McKeeva Bush said in his budget address.

He
said the pensions law and regulations would be revised to regulate pension
plans and administrators and a revised Labour Law would create a single
inspectorate to deal with labour-related matters, including non-payment of
pension and health insurance contributions.

He
added that a fixed ticket penalty system would be introduced “to more
efficiently bring delinquent/unscrupulous employers to account for labour,
pension or health insurance infractions.”

Currently,
delinquent employers must be taken to court to be fined for pension
contribution infractions.

Mr.
Bush said the amendments to the law were necessary because the government would
require “a small army” to implement and enforce the law as it stands.

“Labour
has been a vexing issue for many years and the Department of Employment
Relations has been the target of much criticism for not delivering to a high
standard,” he said.

“No
tweaking will address the fundamental issues underlying these critical areas of
government. Wholesale change is required,” he said.

Among
the changes being proposed is the restructuring of the Department of Employment
Relations and the National Pensions Office to create two new agencies: a Human
Capital Development Agency, which will focus on work placement and national
training, and an inspectorate to deal with pensions, labour and health compliance
issues.

The
Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams has said about 670
companies were delinquent with their pension payments to employees when the
Complaints Commission began a review of the retirement savings system in
January.

The
prospect of fines for employers who fail to pay pension and insurance contributions
is not new. It was recommended in a consultant’s report from Mercer Human
Resource Consulting in March 2007 that the National Pensions Office should have
the ability to levy fines directly on offenders.

The
Mercer Report also recommended changes to the pension legislation to make it
“more workable and consistent”.

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