Lean times? Not for some

Premier McKeeva Bush and Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson proposed pay cuts for higher earning civil servants in early March 2010, looking for ways to make up a projected budget deficit of tens of millions of dollars.

In early May, civil service leaders decided on a 3.2 per cent across-the-board pay cut for central government workers. This reduction was to take effect on 1 July, 2010, at the start of the government’s new fiscal year.

Rumours of pay raises within various civil service departments began to surface shortly after the beginning of the budget year.

On 20 September, directives were issued from the deputy governor’s office that ordered no more pay raises for civil servants unless they were approved by the deputy governor.

Between 1 March and 31 October, the Observer on Sunday has learned that at least 80 government workers received pay rises. The information was obtained through an open records request filed on 9 November.

All 20 government entities where the pay raises occurred gave reasons for why those increases occurred that varied widely. The Observer on Sunday is now reporting the reasons for each pay raise and which departments gave them. The newspaper is not identifying any of the individuals who received the pay increases by name.

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 over this same time and 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,” said association President James Watler in December.

All agencies responding to the open records request indicated their employees did take the 3.2 per cent civil service pay cut in July, regardless of whether they received the pay increase.

Listed below are the 20 government departments that gave at least one pay raise between March and October:

Lands and Survey

Three pay raises were given here, one 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. Employee #1 was given a 28 per cent pay hike due to a promotion.

Employee #2 got an 11 per cent pay raise for a promotion.

Employee #3 got a 13 per cent pay hike for a promotion.

Public Service Pensions Board

Ten pay raises were all given by this entity between April and July.

Employee #1 received a 2.56 per cent in pay due to changes in government’s salary scale, according to the pensions board response provided under the FOI Law.

“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,” wrote Information Manager Joanna Virtue-Markman.

Employee #2 got a 0.17 per cent rise due to the salary scale adjustments.

Employee #3 received an 8.51 per cent increase because of the salary scale adjustments.

Employee #4 was given a 29.87 per cent pay rise because of a promotion; one of two employees to receive a promotion between March and October of 2010

“With regards to the two promotions, they were to fill existing gaps in the organisational chart and recruitment was done internally,” Ms Virtue-Markman said. .

Employee #5 received a 4.04 per cent pay rise due to the salary scale adjustments.

Employee #6 got a 3.45 per cent after the salary scale changes.

Employee #7 was given a 4.04 per cent raise due to the salary scale adjustments.

Employee #8 got a 5.98 per cent pay hike because of the salary scale changes

Employee #9 received a 5.68 per cent raise for a promotion.

Employee #10 got a 0.11 per cent rise due to the salary scale adjustments.

Agriculture Department

Ten pay raises all given in July ranged between 1.9 per cent and a net -1 per cent decrease (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.

Department Assistant Director Brian Crichlow provided the following explanation for the increases: “Early in 2009/10 (the previous budget year), well before any decision on salary reductions was made, the Portfolio of the Civil Service on reviewing the department’s human resources situation, recommended that the Department of Agriculture should eliminate a number of long standing duty allowances paid to certain staff members.”

“{The portfolio also recommended] that these staff members’ base salaries should be adjusted, by moving to a new point on the [salary] scales, so as to incorporate the value of the allowances that would be eliminated.”

Crichlow said it was decided that the increases would take effect at the start of the upcoming budget year – 2010/11 – on 1 July, 2010.

Solid Waste Department

Eleven pay raises were given; all were in July and averaged just above one per cent once the 3.2 per cent pay reduction took effect. Various reasons were given for these:

Employee #1 got a 1.043 per cent pay hike for an increase in duties.

Employee #2 got a 1.13 per cent increase when they were moved from the department’s biweekly to monthly payroll.

Employee #3 got a 1.12 per cent pay increase for promotion to the human resources department

Employee #4 got a 1.05 per cent rise for assignment of extra duties since 2008.

Employee #5 received a 1.06 per cent increase for a change in their job to reflect “increased range and complexity of duties”

Employee #6 got a .98 per cent pay bump after moving from biweekly to monthly payroll.

Employee #7 received a 1.13 per cent raise for assignment of extra duties.

Employee #8 got a 1.05 per cent hike to reflect a change in their job and “increased range and complexity of duties”.

Employee #9 received a 1.07 per cent pay rise to reflect a change in their job and “increased range and complexity of duties”.

Employee #10 got a 1.08 per cent pay increase for taking on extra duties.

Employee #11 received a 1.07 per cent salary hike for earning a master’s degree and a change in job title.

Postal Service

Three pay raises were given here, one in May and two in July.

Employee #1 was given an eight per cent pay hike after successfully applying for a vacant position. The new position was at a higher salary scale.

Employee #2 received a 22 per cent pay increase. According to the Postal Service this rise was given because the position had “changed and grown” over the years

Employee #3 got a slight pay increase, but ended up taking a two per cent pay cut overall when the civil service pay reductions took effect in July. The employee had been moved to a different position which required a different salary, according to the postal service.

Computer Services

Four pay raises were given to employees of this department at various times between March and September

Employee A got a 0.06 per cent pay increase for a reassessment of their post which converted the employee’s previous pay for acting in another position to their annual salary.

Employee B also received a 0.06 per cent pay hike for the same reason as employee A.

Employee C got a 1.11 per cent pay rise, again for conversion of previous ‘acting pay’ to the employee’s annual salary.

Employee D was given a 17.34 per cent pay hike for promotion to a different job.

Public Works Department

Two pay increases were given in July by this department.

A 5.04 per cent pay increase was given to an employee whom the department explained had a previous short term contract that provided certain benefits. Those benefits were discontinued when the contract was extended at an increased salary.

A 13.09 pay increase was given to “bring the employee in line with their counterparts in the workplace and in line with the responsibilities and work load being undertaken”.

The increase was part of a “restructuring”, the department said, that reduced a section from five employees to four employees. It was not know whether all those positions were filled at the time of the restructuring.

Planning Department

Two employees received small increases of 1.5-2.5 per cent in August, about a month after the 3.2 per cent pay cut took effect.

The department indicated both pay raises were given for the assumption of additional duties during the year.

Department of Commerce 
and Investment

Four employees got pay raises of between three and five per cent on 1 July.

Employees #1, #2, and #3 were all given five per cent pay increases for re-evaluation of their job descriptions and assignment of additional duties.

Employee #4 from the department was given a three per cent pay raise for the same reason.

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 at ICO got pay raises of either 2.5 per cent or five 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.

Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert openly praised the performance of her employees that received the raises and sent copies of letters congratulating each individual from her office as part of her response to the open records request.

“Your personal performance has been exceptional, as reflected in your recent staff assessment,” Dilbert wrote.

“Congratulations on attaining a LLM (with distinction) in information rights law,” she wrote to another employee. “I know that the completion of this course will directly benefit the ICO.”

Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs

Nine pay raises for this portfolio ranged between two and 18 per cent for regarding of the position or a promotion. They were awarded between April and May.

Six of the portfolio employees received the raises through a “regrading” of their positions, which essentially means they were placed in a different civil service pay bracket. Three of the portfolio employees got raises due to promotions, according to officials who released the information under Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law.

All but two of the employees received pay hikes as of 1 April, 2010. A government memo announcing the 3.2 per cent pay reduction for central government workers was released on 7 May, announcing that the pay cut would take effect on 1 July.

On 16 May and 23 May, pay raises of 18 per cent each were given to two Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs employees for promotions.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs records salary review comprised the government elections office, commissions secretariat, hazard management office, deputy governor’s office, governor’s office, emergency communications (911), the community rehabilitation department, and the legislative department.

Information provided by the portfolio did not specify which departments had received the pay hikes.

Portfolio Chief Officer Franz Manderson provided the following response regarding the raises: “A decision was taken to execute a plan to address this issue. In February 2010 the Portfolio of the Civil Service, at the request of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, assessed a new job description that effectively merged the duties and responsibilities of what were previously two separate posts. The new post was assessed at a higher grade (N) which had a salary range of $35,640-47,904 per annum prior to 1 July 2010. It should be noted that all nine staff members referred to in the Freedom of Information response are now paid on the N scale.

“Shortly after the regrading exercise two young Caymanian trainees successfully completed their training and were accordingly promoted to this new post on the N scale. This promotion translated into their salary moving from $2,434 per month to $2,970 per month, an 18 per cent adjustment in salary. Following the 3.2 per cent salary cuts in July 2010 this was decreased to 15 per cent.

“Additionally, seven officers also received adjustments in salary between 2 per cent-12 per cent as a result of the re-grading exercise, at a total cost of $25K in basic salary per annum. To offset this cost, two full-time positions which were graded at a higher level were given up, which resulted in a cost savings of $90k in basic salary per annum.

Portfolio of the Civil Service

Seven pay raises were given in March and the Increases ranged between 2.5 per cent and 10.4 per cent, prior to the 3.2 per cent pay reduction taking effect.

Portfolio Deputy Chief Officer Ian Fenton said six of the employees who received pay raises had been assigned new jobs, and six had undertaken additional education to warrant the hikes.

“All of the employees received increments after either passing exams/gaining new qualifications or after taking on additional duties,” Fenton wrote in an email. “This has enabled the Portfolio to operate with four vacancies unfilled and generate a good saving for the public.”

The Cayman Islands government has been operating under a “soft” hiring freeze since late 2008, according to memos previously circulated by top civil service officials. Those documents stated that vacant positions are not to be filled unless they are considered critical to the daily operation of the organisation.

Fenton also noted that the additional pay for educational qualifications, such as Certified Public Accountants designations or master’s degrees, or for taking on additional work, are not mandatory.

“(It) depends on significance of the duties and the level of responsibility at which the employee is already working,” he says.

Department of Tourism

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

According to records provided by the department employee #1 had their hourly wage of $11.03 increased to $13.19, which was then reduced to $12.78 per hour because of the civil service pay cut in July. The pay raise figures for employee #2 were the exact same.

DOT employee #3 had their pay increased from $11.34 per hour to $13.19 per hour, which was then reduced to $12.78 because of the civil service pay cut.

“We reviewed our salary and wages budget and noticed that employees #1, #2, and #3 in the same position as others in the exact same role were not evenly paid an equitable hourly wage,” the department said in its response to the open records request. “There are no unique skills or experience for the scope of the position required that any individual has over others employed in this post.”

Effective 1 March, the department said all five people employed in the post were making $13.19 per hour.

Courts administration

Two employees received minor (less than one per cent] salary adjustments that were eaten up by the 3.2 per cent pay cut all government workers took in July.

“The reason for the increments is not controversial, but if it were divulged, the identities of the employees would become apparent to anyone familiar with our staff,” Clerk of the Court Valdis Foldats wrote in his response to the records request.

Education Department

*One employee in the Education Department got a 4.7 per cent pay increase in August.

“Please note that as [the employee] was selected as a subject leader post, the CEO decided to award…a salary increase instead of the [employee] allowance,” the department said.

OCC

The Office of the Complaints Commissioner granted one worker a 10.2 per cent pay increase on 1 July.

“[The employee] briefly left the OCC in 2006, then returned in 2008 at which time she was given a lesser salary than she was previously earning upon her first appointment,” according to statement released by the office, adding that the employee was promised a pay increase at the end of her first year back at the office but indicated that award was never made.

“[The employee] had not been given a salary increase or increment in almost six years,” the statement read. “[The employee]…has always assumed additional duties outside her job duties, was asked to take on additional duties after the administrative and investigative officer resigned in May 2010 and is still performing those duties.”

GIS

Government Information Services provided one employee a 10.4 per cent increase on 23 July.

“[The increase] was part of a contract renewal,” a statement from the agency read.

ESAU

The Education Standards and Assessment Unit gave one employee a pay raise in August. The increase amounted to roughly a four per cent pay raise for that worker.

“This employee was asked to undertake significant extra responsibilities and was therefore promoted with the unit,” officials wrote in response to the open records request.

Education Ministry

One employee in the Ministry of Education received a pay raise. It was granted on 1 July, 2010 and amounted to a 13 per cent increase over the person’s previous salary.

“To further clarify, the person in question recently completed his computer science degree,” a statement from the ministry read. “In addition, it was determined that his salary was not in line with…a similar post in computer services.”

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