Civil Service: Raises do appear legit

Civil service enquiries into dozens of government employee pay raises last year have been completed, according to a memo released to government employees Monday.

According to a statement by Cayman Islands Civil Service Association President James Watler, in all instances reviewed by the association the pay increments were legitimate.

“Colleagues, it appears that in all cases there were legitimate and justifiable reasons for awarding salary increments as it was done within the legal ambit of the Public Service Management Law,” Mr. Watler said. “The overall percentages of persons receiving an increment were less than three per cent of the service.”

The association’s review came on the heels of several reports in the Caymanian Compass last year, which revealed that dozens of government employees had gotten pay increases at a time when government was attempting to reduce a budget deficit that was expected to be in the 10s of millions of dollars.

In an interview with the Caymanian Compass Wednesday, Mr. Watler said he wasn’t necessarily satisfied with the review or the pay raises. But in his opinion, the matter was closed.

“We made this request on behalf of our membership,” he said. “We’re not saying the way things went was right or wrong, but there are some other civil servants who remain deserving [of pay increases].

“Is it prudent to do for some and not others who are going…above and beyond?”

The civil servants employee group looked at 75 pay raises given between 1 March and 30 November, 2010.

The vast majority of those increases were given either because of job regrading or given to employees who took on extra duties during the year.

“Jobs were regraded because much of what was in the job description [was] no longer applicable,” the Civil Service Association memo stated. “The responsibilities had been changed…to better suit the current position.” According to the association’s review, 29 civil servants had their positions regraded between March and November of last year.

Some 35 people were given pay hikes for taking on additional responsibilities. A handful of other pay raises were given for employees who finished training, pay raises to retain staff, or for employees who completed additional qualifications.

The review of civil service pay raises done by the Caymanian Compass identified 110 individuals who had received salary increments for various reasons between 1 March and 31 October, 2010. Those included the following agencies, departments and ministries:

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service: 27 employees received pay increases for promotions, added responsibilities, or reconfigurations of the person’s role within the police service.

Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development: Five people received pay increments of between five and 16 per cent of salary for changed responsibilities, in place of duty allowances or for taking on additional responsibilities.

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).