'Pay to play': Terminations and suspensions

One difference between civil servants and everyone else in the Cayman Islands is a parachute — or, more precisely, a paycheck that keeps showing up regardless of whether they are showing up for work.

Kenneth Bryan, who until last Friday was Premier Alden McLaughlin’s political assistant, abruptly confronted that distinction when he was fired by the premier. In August, Mr. Bryan faces a criminal trial over allegations that he verbally assaulted police outside a nightclub last October. (Mr. Bryan has pleaded not guilty.) He was charged in early December and had been on paid suspension until his termination.

Premier McLaughlin explained that Mr. Bryan couldn’t discharge his duties adequately while he was facing serious charges.

Our sympathies are with both men.

First, Mr. Bryan remains innocent until proven otherwise. The loss of position and income may pose real hardships on him and his family, with difficulties exacerbated by the matter pending before the courts. As he asked rhetorically, “Who’s going to hire me before this trial?”

The Premier, of course, understands this as well. However, we have no quarrel with his decision.

It is the Premier’s right — indeed his duty — to enforce the terms of employee contracts – including exercising the option of termination. (We’ll note here that Mr. Bryan is consulting with his attorneys regarding his particular contract.)

If Mr. Bryan had been a civil servant, however, rather than a political employee, he almost certainly would still be receiving his check as his case progresses toward adjudication.

Consider the case, for example, of former Work Permit Board secretary Tichina Rickfield. Ms. Rickfield continued to receive full pay for five years while authorities pursued a criminal investigation against her, culminating in a trial in which she was found not guilty of all charges.

At the highest level of the same department, Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans has been on leave for three months following allegations of misconduct that have now been determined to be “administrative” (rather than “criminal”) in nature. She continues to receive her full paycheck.

Here’s the question: Why do Cayman’s civil servants receive special benefits that are unavailable to political appointees in government – and would be unheard of in the private sector?

We’re not advocating that every civil servant who faces a criminal allegation should be suspended without pay or terminated automatically. Certainly not. Every instance is different and each deserves a compassionate examination.

We’re also not faulting suspended or furloughed civil servants for accepting the ongoing paycheck that is offered to them. (Who can forget the three chief officers — Deborah Drummond, Angela Martins and Diane Montoya — none of whom was ever accused of any wrongdoing — who continued to receive full pay for years before coming to a final settlement with government?)

Our issue is with the people writing the checks, not the people cashing them.

In cases where accusations of misconduct involve Cayman’s often slow-moving justice system, termination or suspension without compensation should be options available to their government bosses – even if that requires rewriting our relevant legal statutes.


  1. I think what you really want to say it all civil servants are being paid to not work… the only difference is some actually have to show up to get their pay checks.

  2. Another wild misrepresentation of the facts. I have personally known many lawyers and accountants that were put on gardening leave, some for up to three years, being paid 100,000 per month.

  3. The problem surely is that these cases are taking far too long to come to trial.

    We need to take traffic offenses, such as speeding or failing to stop at red light out of the criminal courts and have them handled by a special traffic court. As happens in Florida.

    Why on earth would it take 5 years to gather evidence and prepare a case? Apart from anything else, this greatly increases the likelihood that people will forget what happened or will have left the island.

    Time to bring cases to trial within 6 months maximum.
    This will provide speedy justice and reduce any time spent being paid for staying home.

  4. And another fun fact, the idiots at Lehman, causing the biggest bankruptcy in the US and financial crisis, are getting US 44 million in bonuses this year – see the banking pamphlet Wall Street Journal.

  5. @ Curtis Kraijceck

    How about a few examples of lawyers and accountants that were put on gardening leave?

    My experience of private industry is they sack first and worry about the fallout later because most of the time it’s safer and cheaper that way. That’s one of the reason so many staff are on fixed term/renewable or zero hours contracts.

    Anyway if the employee’s contract is properly drafted there’s always a catch all clause in it that allows them to terminate anyone for conduct that brings, or might bring, the company into disrepute and any sort of criminal charge pretty much fills that criteria.

  6. In my 47 years on the island I have known one lawyer and no accountants being on garden leave. Perhaps Curtis you can share some of your experiences in the Cayman Islands.