Bosses must follow labour law

| 26/03/2020 | 75 Comments

(CNS): With mounting anecdotal evidence that local workers and permit holders are being unfairly treated by bosses during the national crisis created by COVID-19, the labour department is warning employers to follow the law. From workers being forced to use up vacation during the temporary shutdown to people being fired without getting a cent, some employers appear not to care about those who have helped them profit in the past.

In a press release this week the Department of Labour and Pensions said that any employers terminating or temporarily laying off workers because of the coronavirus must pay one week’s wages, at the employee’s latest basic wage, for each completed twelve-month period of employment including if they worked for a previous owners of the same business.

Employees are also entitled to any earned vacation leave, sales commission owed, as well as gratuities earned. 

The only time bosses can dodge severance pay is when laying off temporary employees, but even then there are several exceptions depending on the industry, the length of service and where there is a date when the worker will be recalled.

The department said it will make every effort to work with employers and employees during this time to ensure the proper observance of the Labour Law and Regulations. 

For assistance with labour or pension enquiries, call 945-8960 or email dlp@gov.ky

Visit the DLP website to view labour and pensions legislation, FAQs, or use the minimum wage calculator.

The Department also accepts anonymous reports via a confidential hotline at 945-3073.


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Category: Business

Comments (75)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Bosses must follow Labour Law…unless it suits them not to, which in very rare cases, may lead to an actioned worker claim…but nearly always not, or then deferred for years in legal jockeying the disgruntled worker can’t afford to keep pace with. Worker justice in Cayman is one of the most elusive victories imaginable. Ask those fighting for lawful employer pension contributions going-on a decade!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Needs Assessment should not give those people lined up on Saturday March 28th sending money home through Money Transfer

  3. Anonymous says:

    I was surprised to see so many Work Permit holders sending money home today Saturday March 28th through the money transfer system- and then expect the Cayman Islands Govt or their
    employer to support them – they need to go home and stop taking advantage of the Caymanian People- I felt so disgusted with these people

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  4. Anonymous says:

    It is time for the government to mandate audited financials from any business that employs more than three people. It is clear from the comments that we have many businesses that can’t meet their financial obligations under the law and should have been shut down a long time ago.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Okay, let’s force small businesses to spend more money on meeting more regulations during a time of unprecedented crisis. Great plan.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    If you couldn’t afford to pay your work permit staff in a crisis, you shouldn’t have hired them. You bring them in, they’re your responsibility. If you go bankrupt because you didn’t plan properly, it’s your own fault.
    Pay your damn staff.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I completely agree with this comment! And may I add, far too many businesses bring in expat workers to (often times) save money without any regard to the societal cost of those people living here. Nothing against expat workers. My point is that no one should be under any illusion that by bringing someone in and paying a work permit fee of several hundred dollars to government somehow squares things in terms of having that person live & work here. Work permit fees should be much, much higher (this from someone who now pays several hundred thousand a year to gov)

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    • Anonymous says:

      Guess you work for CIG. Or have never run a business. Small businesses were caught in a double crisis. Many of us placed and prepaid for orders in late December for shipments expected in January. Those shipments were delayed until just last week. We needed to plan inventory for high season, and did so based on historical sales. We were not out beating up bar managers, or partying in Monaco. We were running our businesses responsibly and are now facing a crisis.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so smart! I made a bat and pangolin salad last week. I was going to use the money for my staff, but that pangolin was so juicy, I just had to plan a pandemic.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Reading some of the comments makes me realize that many of the businesses in the SMB segment must be struggling to make ends meet. This was somewhat of a surprise to me as my experience with a number of the small to medium sized local businesses left me feeling that they were financially sound because they often times refused to adequately respond to requests for service from potentially new &/or existing customers. Calls go unanswered, emails never get a response, and service is typically not provided as scheduled and in a technically competent manner.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    CIG has left us with no questions.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Very sad, going to have to fire some long time staff tomorrow. It really sucks, as everyone needs income right now. But government has left us with no options. So sad they haven’t stepped up and done the right thing.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    If I read this correctly, I need to pay out every day we are forced to be closed at full pay. Yes or no? Any politician getting 400k want to step up to the plate! What a crock of shit!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    I read the Labour law, so we have no support from government. Everyone is fired,

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    • Anonymous says:

      Right a couple of weeks of severance pay rather than years of employment? Thanks Alden.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why does government need to support you in your private enterprise. What have you done to support government and the wider community? A few thousand $ in work permit fees, duties that get passed on to your customers? Put on your big boys pants, take care of your staff and deal with it! Anyone that needs a government hand out shouldn’t be in business

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Given government’s position t is less expensive to fire employees than to retain them.whom does this policy benefit?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I hope if our premier wants to do something to save the economy he does it soon. Tomorrow is one of the last days of the month. I need to fire everyone before April, to save money.

    The silence Is deafening

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you looking to permanently close your business? Also, are these low skilled workers that you want to fire?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Maybe government could give them their pension payments to keep them going until their jobs start up again? Would that not help those in need that keep this island working? Is it their money or would government keep it for themselves? Unless the plan was to never pay up at all in the first place then we would understand government’s reluctance to not be obligated to help.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Why would government allow small business to have to close down and go bankrupt
    to pay work permit holders these work permit holders need to go home

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    • Anonymous says:

      Termination letters going out tomorrow. If we wait for our Government to advise we are liable for another month . They are only interested in their own businesses. No long term plan. Selfish is an understatement

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      • Anonymous says:

        So you are laying off staff to save a month’s salary and are asking why government has no long term plan?? Why don’t you do the right thing and actually look after your employees who have contributed (presumably) to your personal success?

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Well then, guess businesses have no choice but to terminate employees. Nice job CIG!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I am terminating everyone Monday. Then I no longer have to pay anyone’s health insurance or wages, I will pay the severance, But I cannot survive with having to pay insurance, pension, and wages for months with no income. Government should have helped small businesses. But they live in ivory towers,

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      • Anonymous says:

        Make sure you pay health insurance for the next 3 months or you risk being personally liable for medical expenses.

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        • Anonymous says:

          No point in disagreeing with that comment. It is what the law requires, although the employee has to provide the premiums.

      • Anonymous says:

        Quite frankly, anyone running a business who has to resort to laying off staff after a couple weeks of no work shouldn’t be in business to begin with. Yes I understand the current restrictions are likely to be in place for longer but how about trying to work with your employees so that they have at least some income and health coverage during this time?

        I find it interesting that small businesses (generally speaking) are quick to threaten these sorts of actions unless government steps in with a hand-out yet are ready to try every underhanded trick in the book to minimize what they pay to their staff and government when times are good. If you want a hand out then you you should be willing to pay corporate taxes.

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        • Anonymous says:

          It s not a couple of weeks Einstein. It is at a minimum a year. The longer we wait the less likely we are to survive. Guess you failed Econ101

        • Anonymous says:

          Those businesses that are assessing their positions and looking at early layoffs are the most viable. To suggest that businesses whom are proactive have no business being in business shows your complete lack of any understanding of business.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now that’s the spirit!

  16. Anonymous says:

    So if our Government orders us to shut down for a month, and we cannot afford payroll, we cannot offer vacation pay to tide them over during this unprecedented emergency. And if they are long term employees we need to pay them for 10, 20 or more months pay due to decisions made by others?

    So basically we have to fire long term employees if this shutdown exceeds 30 days? Then won’t they become wholly responsible for their health insurance payments? Great time for older employees to loose coverage. This is just silly.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    So we shouldn’t give our employees vacation pay? That seems illogical. I did not choose to lay off anyone, government made that decision.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Question: Can employers use lock-down as vacation time? I was told, ‘Stay at home.You are now on vacation”.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. It is not vacation time unless you had previously agreed it. The obligation to pay continues, just as it would if a business was closed for a couple of days due to a hurricane.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This is not exactly true. You can’t be forced to take vacation, that has to be agreed between the employer and the employee. However, if the business is shut down and you can’t work remotely, the employer is not obliged to pay you during this time because you are not working. If you don’t agree to take your vacation days (which can be advanced by agreement between the employer and employee) and they don’t decide to pay you (which I think employers should do if it’s at all possible because this is the right thing to do), then they can either give you unpaid leave, terminate you, or temporarily lay you off (you wouldn’t get severance as long as you are recalled within 30 days for most sectors, or 6 months in construction and agriculture). This CNS article doesn’t have all of the details, but if you read the Labour Law you can see the options, you just have to read things together because the Law doesn’t provide explicitly for a situation like this.

  19. Anonymous says:

    If the Company itself does not have the money, how can they pay employees

    Non essential work permit holders need to go home

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  20. Anonymous says:

    if companies are closed and not making money…how do you expect them to pay their staff??
    temp lay-offs are horrible but this will be the future for a huge number of people in cayman.
    remember …no tourism for at least 6 months.
    time to wake up to the economic reality.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Does this apply to small employers or companies under 15 people?

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  22. Anonymous says:

    “the Department…said that any employers terminating or temporarily laying off workers because of the coronavirus must pay one week’s wages…for each completed twelve-month period of employment”

    I bet employers are quaking in their boots.

    Perhaps time to introduce some genuine protections for staff? No – of course not! Not for those who don’t have any mates in government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I am a micro business in cruise tourism. How can I afford to pay staff for what looks like at least a year with no income? Government is very short sighted in this. None of those employees will have health insurance if they are terminated, but it appears the only avenue available to small businesses is to terminated employment, and do it quickly. The longer we wait the higher the cost. So flipping sad! This is not right.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course we are, a hole. We love our staff. We hoped for some assistance. We have been deserted. We are being forced to let people go. This is not a good policy. Do you not realize the repercussions!

  23. Anonymous says:

    CIG should pay all severances, repatriation fees to all work permit holders making below $50,000 per year that NEED to leave within the next 6 weeks. Make law that all monthly lease payments are to be suspended for three months.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That is the responsibility of the private companies, and majority of workers on work permits are in the unskilled category so that would be tremendous burden on govt, so better for companies to send workers home.

      Plus govt should now use this time to downsize and send some contracted workers home too, in order to allow Caymanians to apply for jobs, as many Caymanians in private sector might need employment

      • Anonymous says:

        What if we have no expats? I have no permits. Then what, they all go onto NAU? Wouldn’t it be better to help small businesses retain employees during this time of unprecedented difficulty?

    • Anonymous says:

      The companies that employed the work permit holders are responsible for them. Also, the only monthly lease payments that the government can suspend are those payments that are being made to the government.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Cayman and CIG will build churches before helping small business with a bail out. The law of the wilderness is in play now and the strongest will survive. Small struggling businesses will fold, so fold quick to save more losses. Hopefully the illegal will be prosecuted for not paying staff and pensions, probably not. The tribunals and courts won’t be full cases as they will be overwhelmed and give up. By the time any cases comes up, the plaintiffs will have left the island.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Labor department make them bosses pay us for every day we have to be off. We need money to pay our bills and the bussiness people are rich. This is not our fault and we work very hard.

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  26. Mr funny says:

    I wonder if company’s like XXXX and all his sub company’s whom have made staff use up there sick and vacation days and told them in person not by email or letter as to keep it from being documented that they don’t have any left for the year and if need to leave or get sick after this is over will be without pay. Will ever get even a fine any action brought on them. Far too long company’s are getting away with slavery!!!

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  27. Anonymous says:

    I would LOVE to see the breakdown of Caymanian employers and ex-pat employers doing this.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Come on seriously, it has taken DPP almost 10 years to prosecute a single employer for non payment of pensions. How will this change?

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    • Anonymous says:

      All while the police actively refuse to even investigate the theft of pension monies by some unscrupulous employers, who deduct the money from employee wages and then spend it on something else. It is sickening.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Imagine. Criminal activity, with complainants, and the police refuse to act. I have seen it myself. Could the Governor please explain?

  29. Anonymous says:

    What about some government help for small cayman business’ we don’t all have millions in bank like these multi national law and accounting firms. if we have to lay off staff it’s a horrendous position all around, yet all government say don’t forget the labour law. The uk and USA are helping business keep people in employment, here they don’t give a dam.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    “…the labour department is warning employers to follow the law….”

    or what?

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but as long as there is no union, workers are not protected and have nowhere to go.
    Especially workers on workpermit are treated like slaves.

    Typical caymanian christianity.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Good luck getting any assistance from them. In the best of times they are useless so cant begin to think how this will improve at this time. This office needs a wholesale revamp from the top.

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  33. Anonymous says:

    There is no time for the Department to work towards a resolution “during this time.” The victims are already unable to support themselves and many will have had to leave Cayman long before any investigation is even started. This is a blemish on Cayman. Government can and should fix it now, and make it clear no individual or business will be permitted to shirk their obligations to their employees.

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