Civil service seeks rules on ‘gainful employment’

Policies on civil servants who participate in “private gainful employment” in extra jobs or who run separate businesses while working for government are being drafted to apply across the government service.

Government chief officers met late last month and discussed the matter, according to minutes of a meeting released by the deputy governor’s office.

“Civil servants who wish to engage in private gainful activity are required by the Public Service Management Law to first obtain their chief officer’s approval,” the records noted. “It was agreed that consistent practice across the service in this area was important.”

The Portfolio of the Civil Service was asked to draft a policy on gainful employment to apply for the entire public service.

Civil servants have been asked to provide information on gainful employment activities for approval by chief officers. They are also typically asked to provide information on any conflicts of interest that may affect the day-to-day operations of any departments, as is set out in the civil service code of conduct.

Acting Deputy Governor Mary Rodrigues said Wednesday there is no outright ban on civil service workers engaging in private gainful activities within certain limits.

“The deputy governor [referring to Franz Manderson] has proposed, and chief officers support, that in this and some other human resources matter, it is important to share best practice and to be consistent in our approach across the civil service,” Mrs. Rodrigues said, noting many departments already have their own rules for such situations.

Civil service employment agreements generally read as follows: “The employee agrees not to, without the written agreement of his chief officer, engage in any private gainful activity that conflicts with the employees’ duties or might be reasonably perceived to conflict with those duties or that impinges upon the employee’s ability to complete his duties diligently and conscientiously in a manner that would normally be expected by a principal employer.”

The issue of government workers holding additional employment, and when they perform those additional duties, has been a contentious one for nearly a decade in the Cayman Islands.

As early as 2005, the Cayman Islands Contractors Association alleged some civil servants were ‘moonlighting’ – or working a second after-hours job, and that others were ‘daylighting’ or working on their own business while they were supposed to be at their government job. The main concern of the contractors association at the time was civil servants were operating construction companies during the day time in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.

“Moonlighting is a questionable activity, as it may leave the employee too tired and distracted to perform his primary job,” the 2005 contractors association statement read. “Daylighting is nothing short of theft from government, and, by extension, from taxpayers.”

“We find daylighting on all levels,’ the contractors association stated, “from clean-up crews and the trucking of aggregate, to full-blown construction companies servicing multi-million dollar contracts.”


  1. It would be wrong to not be involved with an additional job, if I were a civil servant. When you have as many children as I do and aging parents and in-laws, it’s either Government pays for them or we get up and do something. There is nothing wrong with people having businesses where they are ran by a supervisor. The contractor Association should be careful as to not send the message of being anti-capitalist and stifling.

  2. If government employees were truly being as efficient as they could be they would not have time to be so involved in their personal businesses.

    There are some civil servants that have no shame in flaunting the ‘time’ they have on their hands. They may have jobs during the day (lunch time relief etc), constantly checking on their businesses, obviously completing as much work as possible at their desks and spend time marketing their businesses at work.

    As entrepreneurs it is impossible to not be involved at some level during the work day with a private business since most of the managers hired in many retail outlets are not involved in all operational aspects. There are some civil servants that are true investors only and have no need to constantly be involved in operations (staffing, ordering, work permits, marketing) and can truly say their work as a civil servant is not affected.

    No one is being ant-capitalist by demanding that civil servants give the time for the money received.

    Would any of these civil servants with businesses allow their employees (‘supervisors’) to monitor personal business interests/projects during their work day?

    So remember the benefit of having that secure CIG job might mean curtailing some blatant conflicts with actually providing service to the people of this country.

  3. Many civil servants use their Govt paid for cellphone, car gas for their other job or company. This is fraud plain and simple. But they get away with it and it is accepted. They use the govt job to simply pay their sick days, health insurance and pension whilst focusing on their other job and not the job they are actually paid to do. We say we dont have a welfare state but we do, its called the Civil Service!

  4. I’ll make no apologies for the fact that you’ve heard similar comments from me before.

    This is way too late.

    When I was a civil servant in the UK you did not engage in any sort of outside employment – end of story.

    However you write it a public servant moonlighting has a potential conflict of interests because sooner or later in the course of their private sector employment they will come across someone they dealt with officially.

    Worse, they get tempted to use their official position to enhance their private sector work and possibly even their access to confidential information to help their outside enterprises.

    Simple rule – you are 100% public sector or 100% private sector – your choice.

  5. I have pointed this out before in other contexts:
    It is the duty of supervisors to ensure that their juniors are doing their jobs satisfactorily and earning their paysworth for the service of the public. This includes being on time, on duty during required hours, and not doing private work in Government time.
    This supervisors’ responsibility starts at the top and goes right down the line.
    Until we have this fully recognised and enforced this, all these discussions about formulating rules etc are pointless.
    However, I fear I am talking about a system of duty,integrity, racognition of responsibilities and honour which seems to have been thrown out of the window. And I am bound to wonder if it has come about following the example of our politicians.

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