80 receive gov’t pay hikes

A two-month examination of Cayman Islands central government pay records has revealed that 80 civil servants within 20 government departments, portfolios and ministries received pay increases between 1 March and 31 October, 2010.

The records were requested by the Caymanian Compass under the country’s Freedom of Information Law.

The pay increments came either in the months before or the months just after government reduced civil service salaries across the board by 3.2 per cent. The pay reduction took effect on 1 July, at the beginning of the current budget year.

The announcement about the 3.2 per cent pay cut was formally made in early May, but the potential for salary reductions for Cayman Islands government workers had been discussed as early as November 2009. A specific proposal made by Premier McKeeva Bush in early March 2010 to reduce the salaries of some higher-paid civil servants was rejected in favour of the across-the-board pay reduction.

Later in the year, Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks issued a notice that no further pay hikes for civil servants were to be allowed unless the department had express permission from his office to do so.

It was during the period when these various pay-related announcements were being debated and made that the 80 pay hikes took effect.

Not all of the central government entities have responded to the Compass’ open records requests. At press time, the newspaper had not received responses from the Ministry of District Administration, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service or the Ministry or Finance, Tourism and Development. However, both the RCIPS and the Ministry of District Administration have replied that they are working on the request, which was made on 9 November. The Compass will publish those responses when it receives them.

Pay hikes ranged from one 30 per cent increase in salary at the high end, to a fraction of one per cent at the low end. Several of the pay increases were subsumed by the 3.2 per cent pay reduction that took effect in July.

Most of the 20 entities where the pay raises occurred gave reasons for those increases. They varied, but most were for performance, acceptance of additional duties, or promotions.

However, the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association recently noted that other departments within government had been denied the ability to grant pay increases to deserving workers. It has asked 
government’s human resources officials to examine and report to the association on the reasons for each of the pay increases.

“One thing that the current situation has highlighted is the need for the civil service to become more regularised and transparent in its personnel management practices,” association president James Watler said.

All agencies responding to the open records request indicated that their employees did get a 3.2 per cent pay cut in July, regardless of whether they received the pay increase. Listed below, in no particular order, are the 20 government departments that gave at least one pay raise between March and October. Included are brief details on the number of raises given, the amounts and the briefly stated reasons for the increases:

Computer Services: Four pay raises totalling between 0.06 per cent and 17.34 per cent of salary. Two of the raises were for reassessment of jobs, one was for a contract renegotiation, and the last – in September – was for a promotion.

Lands and Survey: Three pay raises, one given in July, one in September and one in October. Two of these occurred after the deputy governor’s order of 20 September, which forbade raises that were not approved by his office. They ranged between 11 per cent and 28 per cent and were all for promotions.

Public Service Pensions Board: Ten pay raises all given between April and July. They ranged between 29.87 per cent for a promotion and 0.11 per cent for ‘salary scale implementation’. “It should…be noted that the PSPB underwent a salary review, which remodelled its salary scale from the previous method of broad bands to a salary scale reflective of central government with points. With regards to the two promotions above, they were to fill existing gaps in the organisational chart and recruitment was done internally,” read a statement from the board provided with its data on the raises.

Agriculture Department: Ten pay raises all given in July ranged between 1.9 per cent and -1 per cent (when the 3.2 per cent salary reduction was applied). All were given as salary adjustments due to the removal of those employees’ duty allowances.

Solid Waste Department: Eleven pay raises were given, all averaging just above 1 per cent. Various reasons were given, including an increase in duties, movement from bi-weekly to monthly payroll, promotions and assigning of extra duties.

Postal Service: Three pay raises, one in May and two in July, ranged between 22 per cent and -2 per cent (when the 3.2 per cent salary reduction was applied), due to job re-evaluation, promotions or moves to a different position.

Public Works: Two pay increases of 13.09 per cent and 5.04 per cent were given on 1 July. Regarding the 5.04 per cent increase, the department explained that there was no net increase because benefits associated with an earlier short-term contract were discontinued for that employee. The higher pay raise was to “bring employee in line with their counterparts in the workplace and in line with the responsibilities and work load being undertaken”.

Planning: Two employees received small increases of 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, which were eaten up by the 3.2 per cent salary cut in July.

Department of Commerce and Investment: Four employees got pay raises of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent on 1 July. All were for re-evaluation of a job description and an increase in job duties.

Customs: Three per cent pay increases for two employees were given, one in March and one in May. “Increases were given for additional awards obtained directly relating to their positions,” the department explained.

Information Commissioner’s Office: Three employees got pay raises of either 2.5 per cent or 5 per cent. They were awarded in July, August and September. Two were for the completion of law degrees; one was for re-evaluation of a position.

Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs: These nine pay raises, previously reported by the Compass, ranged between 2 per cent and 18 per cent for either a position or a promotion.

Portfolio of the Civil Service: Seven pay raises were given in March; these were also previously reported in the Compass. Increases ranged between 2.5 per cent and 10.4 per cent, prior to the 3.2 per cent pay reduction taking effect.

Department of Tourism: Three employees received increases ranging between 12.6 per cent and 15 per cent in March to essentially “even out” the salaries being paid to five similar positions.

Courts administration: Two employees received minor salary adjustments that were eaten up by the 3.2 per cent pay cut in July.

Five other government departments gave pay increases to one employee between March and July. They were: Education Department (4.7 per cent increase), Office of the Complaints Commissioner (10.2 per cent increase), Government Information Services (10.4 per cent increase for a contract renewal), the Education Standards and Assessment Unit (the employee received a 3.9 per cent pay increase), and the Ministry of Education (a 13 per cent increase for completion of a degree).