Gov’t sheds light on civil servants’ moonlighting

Business owners, disc jockeys, musicians and farmers. Taxi drivers, tour guides and tutors.  

Those are just a sample of the professional roles filled by Cayman Islands civil servants, in addition to their official occupations.  

In response to open records requests, the government’s ministries and portfolios provided information about 151 instances where civil servants reported having ‘private gainful employment’ and/or business interests apart from government.  

In a handful of cases, those civil servants had business relationships with government through their private interests. 

There is no outright ban on civil servants having outside jobs or running their own businesses. In February 2012, government chief officers asked the Portfolio of the Civil Service to draft a policy on private gainful 
employment that would apply uniformly to the entire public service. 

According to minutes of that 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.” 

Ministries respond to FOI 

In late December, the Caymanian Compass submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Law to ministries and portfolios seeking information about public servants who declared having private gainful employment or business interests, how many public servants had a paid contract relationship with government in addition to their regular employment and the entity’s policy on private gainful employment by 
public servants. 

The public finance branch of the Ministry of Finance was the first to respond, on 16 January. The financial services branch of the Ministry of Education, Financial Services, Training and Employment didn’t respond until 25 April, after the Compass submitted an appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

The Ministry of District Administration, Works, Land and Agriculture had the highest number of civil servants – 72 – who had declared outside employment, followed by the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment – 48. That does not necessarily mean those two ministries actually have the greatest number of civil servants with jobs on the side – just that those two ministries had the greatest number of civil servants who followed procedure and told the chief officer about their private employment or business interest. 


More money, more interests 

Based on the information provided, it appears that the greater a civil servant’s salary, the more likely he or she is to have outside employment or business interests. A total of 16 civil servants with salary grades from A-G declared they were engaging in private gainful activities. That’s about 11 per cent of the 144 civil servants in that salary range, according to the government’s most recent Annual HR Report, for the 2010/11 budget year. 

No people with pay grades of A or B reported having private employment (judges, deputy governor, governor, attorney general, legislators, financial secretary, speaker of the house). Salary grades C-G cover job titles ranging from directors to chief officers, and carry annual wages of between $77,700 and $143,000. 

Salary grades H-L cover job titles ranging from assistant directors to managers, and carry annual wages of between $42,500 and $93,500. A total of 57 civil servants in that pay range declared having private employment, or 5 per cent of the 1,246 civil servants with those pay grades. 

Salary grades M-R cover job titles ranging from assistant secretaries to trainees, and carry annual wages of between $17,800 and $51,400. A total of 40 civil servants in that pay range declared having private employment, or 2 per cent of the 1,635 civil servants with those pay grades. 

Hourly workers also appeared more likely to declare having private employment. A total of 38 hourly workers declared having other employment, or 6 per cent of the 594 workers paid by the hour, with wages ranging from $8.92 to $19.60 per hour. 

Overall, 151 civil servants reported having outside employment, or 4 per cent of 3,619 civil servants. 

Who does what 

The types of outside occupations by civil servants are rather diverse. They include appliance repairs, auto mechanics, bartending, bus/limo/taxi driving, car washing, construction, DJ’ing, farming, gardening, hair salons, musicians, real estate, retail, sales, tour guides and tutoring. One postal service employee is a “financial industry board member”; one Department of Counselling Services employee is a “small batch coffee roaster”; and one Ministry of Health Administration employee has an “Internet based children’s bookstore”. 

For several civil servants, the descriptions of their outside employment or private business interests are rather vague, including ‘business’, ‘family business’, ‘N/A’, ‘part-time employment’, ‘website’ and even ‘?’. 

The Ministry of District Administration was the only entity with civil servants who reported having additional contract relationships with government. A total of four civil servants (all paid by the hour) said they had contracts with government for functions including baggage examiner, car wash and room rental at private residence. 


  1. I am not sure if I got this right: There is an excessive number of civil service employees. They get free medical care not only for themselves, but for their families as well. They get a lifetime pension that is nowhere accounted for in the Government’s books and that may well amount to 800 mln and is still growing. They do not stop working at 65 and get their salaries in addition to their pensions. They do not seem to have enough to do in their regular work, so they engage in second jobs and take away those of other Caymanians who really need them. I have a nagging feeling that not everyone is disclosing their side jobs, and that those 151 may only be the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it about time someone said Stop!?
    If I was a public servant with some or all of the above attributes, I would feel guilty. Of course you should never demand as much from others as from yourself. But in this case, something has gone seriously awry. What to do? Here are some ideas:-
    Introduce compulsory retirement of civil servants at 65.
    Cut free medical care to 50% of monthly contributions and let them pay for their families like everybody else does.
    Put in place a voluntary termination scheme with increased severance payments for those public servants who change to the private sector.
    Prohibit civil servants from taking on second jobs with penalties for infringements.
    Sack the most senior civil servants. Not only do they draw the highest salaries, thus yielding the biggest savings to the Government, but since they are the most highly qualified ones, they will find new jobs in the private sector most easily. If they do not have one already, that is

  2. I really do not see anything wrong with civil servants having a side business of their own. Many times their salary cannot meet their needs especially those with children. However I am against civil servants serving on government boards and getting paid. In fact there is too much corruption when they are on these boards. People need to be carefully selected.

  3. The civil servents can’t make it with the little money they make with the high cost of living. These people are honest people just trying to get by without a hasle. As long as they are not doing anything in conflict with their jobs what’s the problem? It is good they are productive workers on and off the job. The political people( not all) need to be watched that’s why we have the Financial Crimes Unit and they are doing a super job.

  4. If there is no conflict of interest there is no issue. However, the fact that there are people engaging in activities such as ‘?’, ‘N/A’ and ‘website’ means that the necessary checks aren’t really in place.

    How does somebody okay a form with ‘?’ as the description of what the business is…unless you’re a local MLA, in which case it would be ‘???????’.

  5. To be honest with you, Cayman’s cost of living is extremely high, and families are finding it difficult to pay utilities like CUC. So in a way, I don’t blame a man or a woman, hustling to get a second job and bring more income into the home. That is just how the world works. Governments pay alot of their staff chicken fee – the ones on the top get the most money.

    Just recently I heard Honduran Police protesting against their government because they make less than 200 U.S. a month! If you don’t start paying the Civil Servant right, they will not perform their jobs properly, and then you will have more complaints ever before from the private sector. So to penalize Civil Servants now, especially in austere times, is not a wise thing to do.

  6. The issue is that the private sector is paying for the public service through fees, duties, etc. So we expect people to work 45 hours a week for the public service and get enough sleep to be able to do their job effectively. If you are running a business on the side either you be working during hours that you are paid for or working after hours and be tired during the day, both ways you main job will suffer.

    The other issue is that you using your main job to subsidize other business and the person in the private sector is trying to survive off their sole job to stay in business at the same time being forced to pay more tax because the public service is too large – it is totally unacceptable !

  7. I think one will find that the civil servants are making enough money in their Gov’t jobs. One of the problems is what kind of attention is needed to do their jobs . For sure one cannot drive a vehicle 12-14 hours a day 6-7 days a week and pretend that you wouldn’t get tired. The other problem is it a garbage truck or dump truck , taxi, bus .What kind of attention span could you probably pretend to have? The only way one could do it is if the gov’t job was were you were sleeping.
    Why can’t a supervisor just verify that the person needs the extra money? Are they needing for paying off their house loan or are they sick? One has to appear to be fair in this recession. There are some jobs that have become seasonal. Surely they don’t need more competition

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