OCC presses staffing board to explain decisions

| 13/04/2016 | 4 Comments
Cayman News Service

Bridgette Lazzari-von Gerhardt, Acting Complaints Commissioner

(CNS): The Office of the Complaints Commissioner has revealed in its latest work report that, following complaints by members of the public, it has made a number of recommendations over the past year to the Business Staffing Plan Board to provide clear explanations for the decisions they make and that they should formally document and record all discussions requiring actions they plan to take. The OCC also made recommendations to the Department of Labour and Pensions regarding their internal complaints process (ICP).

The last complaints commissioner, Nicola Williams, left Cayman more than 15 months ago and has not been replaced. Despite the heavy workload, Bridgette von Gerhardt has been holding the fort as acting commissioner but her short-handed staff has not been able to conduct any own motion investigations into emerging or existing problems.

Last year the office received 133 complaints from the public. Of those, 28 were referred to the ICP manager within government entities as they were premature, with other avenues of resolution available to them. But 96 were investigated by the team of just five people, including the acting commissioner.

The OCC has not revealed the details of those ongoing complaints but said some seven recommendations were made to the Department of Labour and Pensions regarding the training of their internal complaints manager and staff, their internal complaints process and the need to address administrative elements of the complaints process.

The office also monitored 28 recommendations brought forward from last year, a large number of which relate to previous Own Motions Investigations (OMI). One of those was into the ability of the National Pensions Office to effectively investigate, charge and convict companies who are non-compliant with legally mandated pension contributions, and the other into the ability of the Department of Labour and Pensions (DLP) – formerly known as the Department of Employment Relations (DER) – to effectively and properly oversee, inspect and ensure health and safety at work for those involved in the instruction industry, as mandated under the applicable law and regulations.

The OCC said it had received proof that the DLP had substantially complied with the majority of the recommendations, but some are linked to the passage of the Pensions Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Bill and compliance was therefore delayed.

Despite already having a significant workload and a small team, the complaints commissioner has accepted responsibility for the new government regime regarding whistleblowing. The OCC agreed in November last year to take on oversight for receiving and clearing reports from whistleblowers under the new legislation.

The OCC has begun preparations for the drafting of policy and guidelines on how to whistleblow and receive lawful protection. OCC Investigator Daniel Lee recently met with Valerie Jepson, the Integrity Commissioner of Toronto, and also Commissioner Joe Friday and other members of the Office of the Public Sector Integrity in Ottawa to find out about their work regarding the investigation of whistleblowing complaints.

See Ask Auntie question about Making a complaint about a government department

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hell, it’s not like the constitution requires reasonably detailed reasons or anything.

  2. Catcha Fire says:

    Just like the Police and standards unit a whole heap of smiles and sympathetic speeches but little or nothing concrete done against violators or abusers in our government or authorities, totally useless and a real wast of time. A feel good time consuming exercise and a big economic risk for those victims and complainants. Promotions and OBE’s and fancy titles for those heads of departments and retirees who are responsible. Government and its senior officials continue on their merry way!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Odd that, Alden and his cronies not helping the public by appointing a new Commissioner.

    • Anonymous says:

      The premier does not appoint the Commissioner or give orders to the Commissioner; that is the responsibility of the Governor.

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