Despite public warnings issued a year ago, Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said poor performance in government “continues by some staff.”
“Beginning next month [referring to March], the Portfolio of the Civil Service will roll out its plan to enable the civil service to deal more effectively with staff who have failed to perform their duties to a satisfactory level,” Mr. Manderson wrote in a memo to all civil servants Monday. “I expect our managers and supervisors to be fair but firm in dealing with inadequate performance and I expect inadequate performers to make the necessary improvements or to exit the service.”
Read What happens when misconduct occurs: The government’s Public Service Management Law sets out in great detail the steps that must be taken before disciplining an employee for either inadequate performance, minor misconduct or gross misconduct.
Mr. Manderson raised some hackles among government staff last year when he warned of “separations” for civil servants who did not meet goals stated in their performance agreements signed with department managers, but vowed in the memo issued Monday to follow through with his promises.
“Inadequate performance continues by some staff,” the Feb. 29 memo read. “I have, therefore, made dealing with poor performers my top priority for the year.”
Poor performance, as well as adequate performance and exceptional performance, is considered on a case-by-case basis for each civil servant.
Mr. Manderson said all of the roughly 3,600 central government employees in the civil service now have what are known as “performance agreements” with their relevant supervisors. That includes chief officer-level senior managers who are supervised directly by the deputy governor.
The agreements set performance targets and are reviewed annually by managers who provide feedback to the employee.
“This … is leading to improved accountability,” Mr. Manderson said.
If a civil service worker does not perform up to par, based on his or her specific performance agreement, the staff member can be written up, reassigned, suspended without pay or even terminated – if the non-performance rises to the level of gross misconduct, according to Public Service Management Law regulations.
Cayman Islands Civil Service Association President James Watler said, from the employee representative group’s perspective, as long as civil servants know what is expected of them, they can achieve it.
“We don’t mind being held accountable [for performance]; we don’t have a problem with that,” Mr. Watler said. “As long as we know what we need to do and get on with it.”
Mr. Watler said he has seen and reviewed the deputy governor’s Monday memo and said he generally thought it was a “step in the right direction,” as long as non-performance issues were addressed fairly across the service.
As part of the upcoming 2016/17 government budget process, Mr. Manderson also informed civil servants that certain pay adjustments would be provided for to deal with the ongoing issue of “pay stagnation” in the civil service.
Stagnant pay has affected Caymanian workers disproportionately in recent years, according to public finance reviews, with individuals who entered the civil service several years ago – who had not been given a significant increase in pay – lagging behind new hires who were often doing the same jobs but receiving a higher salary.
Certain pay stagnation “awards” were provided during the current budget for public school teachers and police officers. In addition, certain pay raises based on job performance evaluations were given to customs and immigration officers, Mr. Manderson said.
“The government has made provisions to extend pay stagnation remedies for other sections of the civil service,” Mr. Manderson said. The details of those pay increases would form part of the upcoming budget, and Mr. Manderson noted Premier Alden McLaughlin had already agreed to provide the funds.
“Issues such as pay stagnation continue to be a top priority, recognizing that we must be mindful to show fiscal [restraint] so that the financial relief [to government employees] can prove sustainable,” he said.