Mandatory survey seeks information on wages

All employers required to take part

An aerial view of the business area of downtown George Town, Grand Cayman
An aerial view of the business area of downtown George Town, Grand Cayman. – Photo: Chris Court

Government is launching a survey that will require all employers in the territory to provide information about the people they employ, including their qualifications, nationality, compensation, skills, and workload.

The occupational wage survey is being conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and the Economics and Statistics Office, and will run from Wednesday Oct. 18 to Dec. 29.

Labor surveys are typically conducted by polling random samples of households in Cayman, but Economics and Statistics Office Director Maria Zingapan said a comprehensive study among businesses is required for government to make informed decisions about setting the minimum wage and other public policy issues.

“If I asked you how much you’re earning, you wouldn’t know how much [your] company pays for your pension, for example,” said Ms. Zingapan.

She said the survey will allow for wage comparisons between Caymanians and non-Caymanians, males and females, and other groups of people. The statistics office can currently provide a broad salary estimate for doctors, but this survey will find out, for example, what a general practitioner makes compared to a specialist, she added.

The last time a study nearly this comprehensive was conducted was in 2005, when data was collected from all private sector employers. This survey is even more ambitious, also collecting public sector wage information. In order to accomplish this and carry out its day-to-day activities, government has provided extra workers for the Economics and Statistics Office to distribute surveys and process the data, said Ms. Zingapan.

The Statistics Law requires all employers to participate under the threat of fines or even imprisonment. However, Ms. Zingapan said her department has never had to impose penalties for non-compliance in the past, and she does not expect to have to in the future.

Businesses’ primary concern is data confidentiality, which will be ensured, she said.The survey will not identify the employer’s or employee’s names. None of the statistical data collected will be made public, which would result in the identification of an individual or organization, and the details cannot be disclosed using the Freedom of Information Law, she said.

In a press release, Premier Alden McLaughlin urged the territory to participate in the survey.

“It is critical that the country generates reliable and internationally comparable labour market information, which can be useful for decision-making by government, employers and employees,” he stated. “The comprehensive data collected will help to inform policy and legislation in the Cayman Islands, improve availability of quality labor market information and provide a current look into the compensation landscape for the area and industry.” As long as data confidentiality is ensured, the business community will likely be willing to participate in the exercise, said Cayman Chamber of Commerce CEO Wil Pineau.

“It’s another thing to do, but at the end of the day, it’s going to lead to more useful data for government,” he said.

The Economics and Statistics Office stated that employers will receive forms by Oct. 20, and will have until Dec. 29 to complete them.

“ESO officers will be ready to assist employers in completing the forms upon request,” the department stated in a press release.

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