Civil service: Concerns about separation policy

While it isn’t taking a firm position on the idea, the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association has noted its “disappointment” in a government proposal that some Caymanian and permanent resident workers consider voluntarily separating from their civil service jobs.

Of particular concern, according to a civil service association communiqué to its members sent Tuesday, is a requirement that anyone taking voluntary separation is forbidden from applying for any government job for the next five years.

“This applies to any vacant advertised job, in any section of government, not just [the civil servant’s] previous employment,” the association noted.

The association also pointed out that the voluntary separation only applies to Cayman citizens [technically, it applies to anyone on an open-ended contract with the civil service] and that no similar five-year separation provision is required for non-Caymanian contract holders in the civil service whose working agreements have not been renewed.

This represents a “baffling and disturbing dichotomy between [a] Caymanian’s and a non-Caymanian’s potential to apply for jobs,” according to the civil service association.

“The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association can in no way endorse the current policy,” the letter to members states. “It is our view that, clearly, there is a lack of willingness to engage in a holistic review of civil service staffing and staff reductions, of which it is strongly felt that voluntary separation should be a third, not second, resort.”

Civil servants have until Oct. 31 to decide whether to take voluntary separation as offered.

According to the policy issued by the deputy governor’s office, voluntary separations of Caymanian or permanent resident civil servants who are not on fixed-term contracts will be considered based on business cases submitted by the departments in which they work. Non-Caymanian government contract holders, Caymanians above age 60 who are working in the civil service on fixed-term contracts and individuals working on other fixed-term agreements would not qualify for voluntary separation.

“These contracts already have a pre-determined end date which provides the employer an opportunity to choose not to renew a contract without the need for additional compensation,” the policy states. Both the employee and the government would have to agree to separate from the worker’s employment. In cases that are approved by civil service chief officers, a compensation package not exceeding twice the applicant’s annual salary can be offered to the departing employee.

Awards of compensation to successful applicants are based on the number of consecutive, continuous years of employment the worker has in the civil service.

“The reasons why a civil servant might voluntarily ask their ministry or department to end their employment through voluntary separation will inevitably vary,” the policy states. “An example might be where an employee [who could not otherwise have afforded to resign or retire] wishes to consider voluntary separation in order to change their work direction, start a business, spend more time with their family, develop personally through travel or furthering their training or education.”

Several examples are given in the policy of what might be offered to civil servants who agreed to separate from their work. Applicants who are age 50 to 59 with 10 or more years of service in government, would be eligible for three weeks of pay for every year worked, three months in lump sum of his or her salary, the ability to begin drawing pension immediately and receive retirement health benefits.

Younger workers [under 50] with six or more full years of consecutive service might be offered three weeks of pay for each year, or three months in a lump sum for their salary. The workers will also be offered six months of free government health care coverage.