MLA: Make staffing plans public

All Cayman Islands companies that maintain business staffing plans under the Immigration Law would be forced to make those plans available for public inspection, if North Side lawmaker Ezzard Miller gets his way.

In a private members motion to be considered by the Legislative Assembly this week, Mr. Miller has requested that government amend the Immigration Law to “require that all businesses that have a business staffing plan make the available for public inspection during normal working hours of the business by any member of the public.”

“There is much concern amongst Caymanians that the Business Staffing Plan Board is not protecting their opportunities for employment,” Mr. Miller’s motion stated.

All companies in the Cayman Islands that employ at least 10 non-Caymanian workers on work permits are required to file annual business staffing plans, which must be approved by the relevant immigration board.

The staffing plans contain significant details of the business operations, including which employees perform certain roles and other specific information which has generally been considered proprietary. Now, only the business staffing plan board is allowed to inspect those documents.

Mr. Miller argues that the confidential nature of the plans prevents Caymanians from knowing what jobs are available.

“The Caymanian worker….has no way of finding out what positions have been approved in a business staffing plan, or when [work] permits will expire or what scholarships and training are required as conditions of [the plan],” the motion states.

All Cayman Islands businesses are required to advertise jobs in the local newspaper as per the Immigration Law, and more than 1,000 businesses have registered with the National Workforce Development Agency, allowing anyone to review the employment opportunities they have on offer.

In addition to the business staffing plan requirements, the Progressives-led government has indicated a desire to create an immigration “accreditation” system during the current administration’s term.

The employer accreditation system, first proposed in 2008 by then-Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, was created as an immigration management scheme, but it was never put into place.

Mr. Manderson, now Cayman’s deputy governor, said he still supports the original plan that established a “tier” system for local companies. Essentially, the better corporate citizen a company becomes, the higher its ranking on the tier system becomes and the greater immigration privileges it enjoys.

The deputy governor said the system was created after the Immigration Department noticed that while it was keeping significant records on employees, it had very little information about local businesses.

“Employees do not take away jobs, employers give jobs,” Mr. Manderson said. “We had an employer [at the time] who was basically a revolving door for work permits. When we did the research, it was determined that the employer had no pension or health for their employees, had a track record of treating their employees poorly. It was obvious to us that we needed to do a better job of regulating the employers.

“Everyone, Caymanians and non-Caymanians, needs to be treated fairly. I really believe this can be the answer to so many of the problems we have now.”

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