(CNS): Officials from the home affairs ministry confirmed that Fabian Thompson was on paid leave for more than a year after he was charged in May last year for possession of an imitation firearm with intent. The ministry stated that he had been advised in writing on Thursday, 1 June 2017, some four weeks after he was remanded in custody following his conviction, that his employment as a fire officer was terminated with immediate effect.
Thompson had been placed on required leave from the Cayman Islands Fire Service after he was charged in the case on 18 May. He was tried in May of this year and convicted by Justice Malcolm Swift, who jailed him on 1 June for five and a half years.
The problem of civil servants being on full pay and benefits for months, even years, while they await criminal cases presents a major challenge for public sector management. More than two dozen civil servants currently remain on required leave, the majority of which relate to criminal charges. Just today, officials revealed that another customs officer had joined the list of civil servants, especially uniform officers like immigration and firefighters, who are suspended from their jobs.
Last year during Finance Committee, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson pointed out the difficulties when cases drag on. For example, one civil servant had been suspended on full pay and benefits for more than four years before being exonerated and returned to work.
He said that the service was looking into ways to resolve the situation of public sector workers on leave for very long periods on full pay as they wait for court decisions. Manderson said that where it was clear there was a breach of civil service protocols, it could be possible to deal with their circumstances before cases reach the courts. He said he was looking to see if civil service regulations could accommodate disciplinary hearings and possible removal from the service.