Cayman Islands lawmakers could see legislation by the end of this year that seeks to apply a term limit on residence for non-Caymanian government workers.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson told the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee this month that “term limit rules would apply to the civil service,” but that more work was needed on the specifics of the proposal.
Under the Cayman Islands Immigration Law, all non-Caymanian private sector workers are required to leave the jurisdiction after nine years unless they received some form of permanent residence before then. No similar legislation has ever been applied to government workers, who are allowed to stay in the Cayman Islands as long as they continue receiving contract renewals.
West Bay MLA Bernie Bush asked how long before the so-called “rollover policy” would apply to the civil service.
“I’m hesitant to give a firm commitment on it,” Mr. Manderson said. “It is something that we’re working on now. We have to appreciate that the majority of the non-Caymanians in the civil service are going to be in teaching and police. Those are issues that I know that ministers would want to turn their minds to.”
The concern Mr. Manderson raised during Finance Committee was the one that killed a similar proposal to apply term limits to the civil service In 2007
The government, then led by George Town MLAs Kurt Tibbetts and Alden McLaughlin, said that it would apply the same term-limit policy to government workers that had been implemented three years earlier for workers in the private sector. At the time, there were between 1,300 and 1,400 non-Caymanians employed in the civil service. Today, there are fewer than 900, according to the latest figures provided by the Immigration Department.
The difficulty arose in that certain government departments which employed more foreign workers would be harder hit by a term limit policy than others, particularly the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the Department of Education, which employed a large number of non-Caymanians at the time.
That has not changed. According to the Department of Education, 54 percent of all teachers in the public school system are non-Caymanian. In the RCIPS, about 58 percent of all police officers are non-Caymanian. Also, the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority employees are split about 50-50 between Caymanians and non-Caymanians.
In the earlier proposal, the police service would have been exempt from the term-limit policy, according to then-Deputy Head of the Civil Service Peter Gough.
Also at issue in 2007 was whether various statutory authorities and government-owned companies should continue to be “protected” from the term-limit policy. Many entities, including Cayman Airways and Water Authority-Cayman are already required to get work permits for expatriate employees. However, others, including the Health Services Authority, were not required to do so.
Mr. Manderson said there were too many issues to be worked out for the civil service rollover to be implemented within the next month.
Mr. Bush asked if lawmakers would receive “something” by the end of 2014.
“I would say so,” Mr. Manderson said.