Three-quarters of Cayman Islands civil service earns below $50,000 per year

The vast majority of Cayman Islands civil servants earn less than $50,000 per year, according to a government human resources report made public last month.  

About 76 percent of civil servants earned less than $76,000 per year, and more than 50 percent of those working in the civil service earned less than $40,000 per year, the study revealed after breaking down pay among nearly 3,600 central government workers as of June 30, 2014.  

Fewer than 1 percent of civil servants earned more than $100,000 per year, the large majority of whom were Caymanian, according to the report.  

The civil service salary report showed that fewer than 200 people working in government made less than $20,000 per year. According to the report, the lowest paid worker in the civil service made $17,394 per year during the 2013/14 budget. Some 82 percent of government workers earned between $20,000 and $60,000 per year. Anyone earning more than $60,000 per year was well above the 90th percentile in government earnings, the report showed.  

The highest paid civil servant, not counting the governor or Grand Court judges, made $160,020 as of June 30.  

“The largest group of civil servants [1,042 people] earned in the $30,000 to $39,999 salary range,” the report noted.  

According to data from the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, the average household income on Grand Cayman based on 2010 census records was approximately $52,500 – including private sector jobs, but not including average income figures for Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman.  

However, the human resources report cautioned that comparing salaries between the government and private sector would not necessarily be a fair measure.  

“The provision of medical benefits and pension [without employee contribution] should be noted when making comparisons on overall remuneration packages for civil servants with external organizations,” the report stated.  

According to rates provided to the Cayman Compass as part of a recent Freedom of Information request, retired pensioner rates under Cayman Islands National Insurance Company plans range from $870 per month for non-married individuals, to $1,306 per month for non-married people with children, to $1,741 per month for married couples, and to $2,176 per month for the CINICO family plan. Similar rates for working civil servants are $416 per month for single adults, $832 per month for married couples, $832 per month also for single adults with children, and $1,242 per month for families.  

Neither retired civil servants nor active government workers are required to make co-payments, so the monthly premiums are funded entirely by the government.  

Both civil service plans under CINICO have a $5 million maximum “lifetime limit” for healthcare coverage. There are no limits on prescription drug purchases, in-patient or outpatient care. Overseas accommodations and airfare, if the covered government worker or retiree must fly elsewhere to obtain treatment, are covered 100 percent.  

Who makes the money?  

In the upper echelon of the civil service, within the seven highest pay grades – ranging from $77,700 per year at the lowest end to $160,000 at the higher end – there are a total of 146 employees.  

According to the breakdown in the human resources report, 42 of those workers [about 29 percent] are non-Caymanian. The other 104 [71 percent] are Caymanian. 

Those numbers mirror fairly closely the overall ratio of Caymanian to non-Caymanian workers in the civil service, currently 73 percent Caymanian to 27 percent non-Caymanian.  

In the top three pay grades of the civil service, starting at $123,000 per year, there are five non-Caymanians and 18 Caymanians, a ratio of 78 percent Caymanian to 22 percent non-Caymanian.  

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  1. Ok, so the article simply lists the various earnings brackets and the percentage of workforce receiving pay at or below that level. The article provides no insight as to what the job requirements are for the various income brackets, for example the individual earning the base salary of say 76,000 or less (which is listed at 76% of civil service workers) – what are the qualification or educational requirements needed to obtain the job? The paper seems to just be hilighting the fact that a large percentage of workers are earning less than 40,000 per year. OK, but if the pay is commensurate with the knoweldge, skills and education required for that job and it is only offered to a caymanian and not an expat – then what is the issue? The bottom line is that if you don’t like the situation you are in – change it. Go to school, get an education or trade skills and better yourself. It’s no different here in the US, where we have fast food workers demanding to earn 15 per hour to flip burgers and ask you, would you like fries with that. The statisticts clearly show that if you invest in yourself, the payout will be better employment, higher pay and a better quality of life. Either be happy with what you have or go do something about it.

  2. There is a simple and maybe unpalatable truth – the size of the pie is not going to get any bigger.

    If people want a bigger slice of pie, the only way this is going to happen is if there are fewer diners seated around the table.

    The problem may well be that the Civil Service is too SMALL – it’s structure is modelled on similar arrangements around the world BUT we must shrink the number of front line workers to a fraction of those found abroad, to a number appropriate for an island the size of Cayman.

    The issue is that you can’t shrink the management structure in the same ratio – It’s got to be a whole person.

    This leaves an underutilized manager who could easily manage 4 to 10 times the number of staff but on an island this size that is not going to happen (how many fill their time with a second job?).

    And their team is left resentful as they see their manager not working as hard as they do, yet being better paid…

    Part of the solution is to be creative in the management structure – make use of the ‘unused’ management capacity of one division to also manage another.

    The key metric would be to compare the number of workers vs managers to the private sector – the result will be shocking!

    That said once the MLA’s realize that the voting power is in the ranks of the workers, streamlining the managerial structure becomes easier. The guys unloading the ships at the port authority are still needed if they have six managers or 3…

    Link future pay rises to the re-structuring and the majority of staff will see as a positive when they look back on election day!

  3. Nicole hit it right on the nose, Civil service jobs always seem to be lower paying then Private Sector jobs but you forget to mention the benefits that go with CIG jobs like practically guaranteed employment till you retire, fully paid medical benefits including pension and medical for life.

    The people that are complaining about what the CIG jobs pay always have the option of making more money in the private sector if they want to give up that cushy CIG position.

    Here’s an example of what CIG employees get for free. This is an example of the out of pockets costs for medical benefits from a US insurance company but I can only guess the Cayman wouldn’t be much different if not higher.


    Employee Family 665.44


    Employee Family 51.80

    In addition to this there are copays for each doctors visit and filled prescription. Not to mention that in the private sector you actually pay for your Pension nowadays.

    Add just the medical benefits up and that’s nearly 8500 year in freebies.

    Bottom line is that if you want more money you will most likely have to come out of your comfort zone. A well paying or better paying job is not right nor is a job period, they are both privileges. And no one is forced to stay in the same job.

    You may not like it but it’s a fact that private sector jobs will always pay more the CIG jobs.

  4. Michael, all those things you say and more, are true!
    The more is the unpleasant truth that many of those employees, and not just the ones in the lower grades, are simply not doing useful functions. So, at the lower end, be careful for what you wish for, and some of the so called managers, could you really, I mean really justify your function, let alone your work ethic?
    There is a cross over here from the Port Authority story, where the issue is that they cannot or will not address their costs, or in other words their manning levels.
    At the management level, in CIG and separately the Ports, there is a dreadfully low level of management work ethic.

  5. To add to Arthur’s point, the low level of management work ethic exists in the CIG workforce is specifically due to the comfort level when it comes to job security or as some would refer it security of tenure. Where if employed in the private sector your longevity is based on how productive and valuable you are to your employer. So what it comes down to is that you can either be happy with that average paying cushy Civil service job or if you want more than they have to offer you can go out into the more competitive private sector where hard work pays off. And this hard work starts in school. With the competitive market in Cayman for local employees that don’t cost a permit fee, I don’t believe for a moment that a well educated person with a clean nose that works hard is dedicated and has a good work ethic will find himself or herself unemployed.

  6. Michael and Arthur, I cannot agree with you more. The root issue at hand within Cayman is not the pay scale or the fact that x amount of CS employees are earning less than 40k per year – but the simple truth that for the size of the island, there are far too many CS employees than what is needed hence the relevance of the overall size of the pie. In addition, there are several of those employees (not all, but a decent percentage) that are not willing to further their education or technical skills which would allow them to obtain higher positions or obtain employment in the private sector. In addition, they would have to sacrifice the additional perks and benefits you obtain by working for the government including the pension and free healthcare. The ones that put forth the effort, work to educate themselves and demonstrate a strong work ethic will rise to the top no matter whether they are in Public Service or the private sector. Now if Cayman could just do something about the corruption, but that is a whole other problem to tackle.

  7. This is interesting because people are using the minimum wage figure of CI 5.00 per hour gross which based on 40 hour week is CI 10,400 per year. And if we used CI 10 per hour on the same 40 hour week 20,800.00. There is on CS that earns less than this but taking medical and pension benefits probably is better off.

    So CS are not badly paid as people are led to believe. The question that was not asked is if the salaries are fixed ie is overtime included in the rates or is it paid on top of the rates and if so how much on average is paid.

    Next CI 40,000 is around USD 50,000 or GBP 30,000 but the diference with the overseas wages is that they pay tax on their gross earnings. Once again CS are not badly paid by international standards either.

    The real issue in Cayman is the CIG provide too many services to its citizens at no cost or too little cost and then expects industry to pay the bill. But this is problem because industry passes the costs with mark up to the Citizens.

    The better option is to cut services to the public and allow the CS to has management buy-outs to form private sector firms to provide these services to the public for a fee and let the true cost create the market. This will bring down the cost the CS and lead to lower taxes therefore prices and inject more money in the local economy for consumption – which better for all.