Public agency job applicants asked nationality, birthplace

Some statutory authority and government company forms ask job applicants for their nationality at birth and at present. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

A number of Cayman Islands government agencies have used employment application forms in 2015 and 2016 that ask job-seekers to distinguish between their nationality “at birth” and their current nationality, or to provide their “place of birth” on the form.

The question, required for applicants for a recently posted Cayman Islands Health Services Authority position, seeks to determine the person’s “nationality at birth” and “nationality now” on the line below.

The query could potentially serve to differentiate between an individual who was born in Cayman who has always held Caymanian status and another who was born outside the islands but obtained that status later in life. Legally speaking, “Caymanian” is an immigration status conferred on an individual by the government, not a nationality.

However, the Cayman Islands Constitution Order (2009) makes no distinction between a person who received status following a number of years of residence in Cayman and someone who was born Caymanian.

While both the Cayman Islands Immigration Law and the constitution’s section 16 of the Bill of Rights allow discriminatory practices in the hiring of Caymanians over non-Caymanians, neither makes a distinction between the hiring of a “status” Caymanian or otherwise.

Outdated form

Health Services Authority Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood said Friday that it appeared the job application form used for the position was used by mistake.
“This is an old form on the website and we will have it corrected right away,” Ms. Yearwood said.

The Health Services Authority is not the only statutory authority or government-owned company to ask such a question of applicants recently, the Cayman Compass has learned.

An application form for job advertised in 2015 by the Tourism Attraction Board, which manages five tourism areas across the Cayman Islands, asked similar questions of applicants.

Also, the Water Authority-Cayman and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, on employment application forms reviewed by the Compass, ask for the applicant’s place of birth. Both entities also ask questions regarding the applicant’s marital status.

The health authority application required applicants to submit a photograph with their employment letter and resume.

In contrast, employment forms used by the central government service – all government ministries and portfolios – require that job seekers provide only information related to their current nationality. When the applicant is not Caymanian, the central government asks for current immigration status in the islands.

No information regarding nationality at birth, place of birth or marital status is requested, and there is no requirement for a photograph.

“Our application meets the requirements of the Public Service Management Law, which distinguishes only between Caymanian and non-Caymanians,” said Gloria McField-Nixon, the chief officer of the Portfolio of the Civil Service, which is central government’s human resources authority.

However, outside authorities – such as the HSA, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority or the Tourism Attraction Board – are not subject to that law in most cases, Ms. McField-Nixon said. This can create some differences regarding employment practices which “do not fall under our remit of oversight,” Ms. McField-Nixon said.

One of the aims of the long-discussed Public Authorities Bill, which is expected to go to the Progressives-led government caucus in April, is to bring hiring practices for all government entities in line.

“The proposed Public Authorities Bill, while not subjecting statutory authorities or government companies to the Public Service Management Law, would seek to standardize hiring practices amongst the [agencies] and to ensure that these are consistent with the public service values which are applicable across the wider public service,” Ms. McField-Nixon said.

It was not known when the public authorities reform would go to the Legislative Assembly for a vote.

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  1. I really do not see anything wrong with asking where a person was born and their National status on an application form. Also I do not see anything wrong with requesting a photo and a police clearance along with finger printing.
    Times have changed and we just have to follow the flow of identity.