Dozens in gov’t get salary and pension

A significant number of employees
in the Cayman Islands Civil Service receive a monthly pension as well as a
salary, according to records obtained by the Caymanian Compass.

There are 65 people who have
retired from the civil service under the defined benefit pension programme –
which means they are receiving a monthly pension while continuing to work in
government, according to information from a Freedom of Information request made
by the Compass. Those workers are typically employed on a fixed-term contract
and, therefore, also receive a salary.

There is nothing illegal about this
process. In fact, the Public Service Pensions Law provides for this very
situation.

According to the law: “A retired
(plan) participant who is receiving a pension and who is subsequently
reemployed in the service shall continue to receive that pension without interruption
upon reemployment but shall be ineligible to make contributions or accrue
further benefits under the plan.”

Section 33 of the law forces civil
servants to retire at the normal age (60) for pension purposes and then
technically considers them to be “re-employed” with the service following that.

There were 171 employees working in
the civil service who were age 60 or over at the date the Compass made its open
records request.  

The ability of civil servants and
Cayman Islands legislators to ‘double dip’ is not to the liking of at least one
lawmaker, who raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly in June. 

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller told
the assembly that a change in the parliamentary pensions law in recent years
has allowed elected officials to receive the same benefit as civil servants –
to retire while continuing to serve in the assembly. In essence, Mr. Miller
said, those lawmakers can “get a double dip” – continue to receive their
salaries while earning a pension at the same time.

The parliamentary pensions law also
allows those lawmakers to retire and receive at least some pension benefit
after just four years of service in the LA.

“It’s not only happening in
parliament,” Mr. Miller said of the pension plus salary payment issue. “It’s
happening in other places in the civil service as well.”

The independent lawmaker said he
will bring a motion to the House seeking a change in the parliamentary pensions
to eliminate government workers or elected lawmakers’ ability to “double dip”.

Civil Service Association President
James Watler takes a different view; in fact Mr. Watler believes under the
current system, it might actually be cheaper for government departments to hire
a recent retiree.

Since government workers are forced
to retire at age 60 in any case, those employees are already receiving a
pension, as well as health care benefits under their retirement plan.

“Until such time they move (the
retirement age) up, there is no option,” Mr. Watler said.

If government brought in a new
employee to fill the retirees’ post, additional costs for pension and health
care would be incurred for that new worker, Mr. Walter said, as opposed to the
retiree who would not receive any further pension or health care benefit other
than what they had already earned.

“I believe there is a savings there
for government,” he said.  

According to a response received
from the Portfolio of the Civil Service on the Compass’ open records request,
the civil service considers receiving salary and pension entirely separate
issues.

“Pension benefits paid by any
pension fund represent the receipt of a benefit that has accrued over the
lifetime of the staff member’s past employment,” Portfolio officials wrote in
their FOI response. “They do not represent any part of their remuneration for
any post they may occupy after reaching retirement age.

“The two are totally separate
considerations.”

Cayman Islands civil servants who
joined the service after mid-April 1999 no longer receive defined benefit
pension payments. In other words, the newer civil service employees will
receive a lump sum payment from their pension funds rather than a monthly
pension.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Yes, it’s all a LONG time ago, but until the 1980s, or possibly earlier, there was in British Law, which applied to all British Territories, provision that if a retired civil servant was re-employed after retirement, his pension was stopped while re-employed.
    And that’s how it should be, again. Shall we see an MLC who has the sense and guts to propose this be re-introduced – I’ll wait until hell freezes over for that, no doubt.Or Mr Ezzard Miller?

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