Cayman’s civil servants have welcomed the news that they will be receiving larger paychecks next month after Premier Alden McLaughlin announced a 5 percent pay increase backdated to July 1.

There was more good news for government workers this week as well after it was confirmed that a previous plan for civil servants to contribute to their healthcare costs had been “stood down.”

The idea had been put forward by previous Finance Minister Marco Archer but is not currently being pursued, according to Acting Deputy Governor Gloria McField-Nixon.

The cost of living increase for all civil servants in core government will be paid in the September salary, the premier said in a State of the Nation address at the Legislative Assembly in Cayman Brac last week.

John Bothwell, head of the Civil Service Association, said the increase was “welcome recognition” of the hard work that the civil service had been doing for the last several years. He said paychecks had effectively decreased when adjusted for inflation during that time and the adjustment would help government retain and attract high quality staff.

He said, “Government bringing the Civil Service pay scales more in keeping with the actual value of the work carried out, as well as the cost of living in Cayman, is welcomed by all of our members and we are particularly heartened to see that Government intends to keep the Civil Service pay scale competitive through ongoing cost of living adjustments in the near future.”

In his speech, Mr. McLaughlin said that, providing government financial performance and the economy remain strong, a further cost of living increase would be made in 2020 to adjust for the Consumer Price Index between 2018 and 2020.

“This will finally begin to bring civil servant salaries back on track after seven or more years of playing catchup with an increasing cost of living. This will also complete the plans started during the last administration to bring civil servants pay back in line and will not only benefit families of civil servants but is money that will be spent back into the local economy,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Cost of living adjustments were historically awarded periodically to ensure civil service salary scales kept pace with increases in the Consumer Price Index, according to Ms. McField-Nixon.

The practice was suspended during the recession and civil servants pay was actually cut by 3.2 percent in 2010. That pay cut was reversed in 2015 and the latest cost of living increase signifies a return to what Ms. McField-Nixon described as “normal HR practices” following the stabilizing of government finances.

On the subject of healthcare costs, Ms. McField-Nixon added, “The previous[ly] announced plans to have civil servants contribute to their healthcare costs was stood down. As part of its mandate to modernise terms and conditions of employment, the Portfolio of the Civil Service continues to support the Deputy Governor’s Office and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to ensure the sustainability of civil service employment benefits.”

In his speech last week, Mr. McLaughlin said government is also reviewing the broader salary scales of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Fire Service, and employees of the Department of Environmental Health, “to ensure we can attract and retain the staff we need and I will advise on these at a later date once the reviews are completed.”

According to the most recent Annual HR Report from the Portfolio of the Civil Service, there were 3,778 civil servants in core government in December 2017. According to that report, the average salary for civil servants is $46,575 per annum.