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New laws needed to make workplace fair

Local News 23 Mar, 2022 Follow News

New laws needed to make workplace fair

By Lindsey Turnbull

In response to growing concerns about the slow processing of work permit applications, Business Staffing Plan Board Chairman Richard Barton has written to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Finance and Economic Development Chris Saunders explicitly outlining the issues that have been causing the problem.

Mr Barton said there were a number of factors that had combined to slow down the work permit process and these were the sheer number of incomplete applications they had to deal with which had created a backlog over some years, the impact of the pandemic, and the 2021 elections whereby a new administration took office.

Despite these difficulties, Mr Barton said the BSPB had greatly increased their efforts in trying to clear the backlog, approximately doubling the number of applications they considered on a weekly basis when compared to the last Board.

He called it “disheartening” when members of the private sector launched criticisms and personal attacks on the integrity of the Board and on WORC and said that type of behaviour did little to inspire confidence in the process and reflected poorly on the overall business climate of the Cayman Islands locally and abroad.

Abuses of the system by employers deliberately shutting out Caymanians and RERC holders to pave the way for work permit holders needed urgent focus. Mr Barton noted abuse of the work permit system by some applicants who appeared determined to recruit from abroad rather than recruiting Caymanians.

“The BSBP has witnessed the clearest evidence of this and sought to change the misguided perception that a work permit is a right rather than a privilege,” he stated.

Mr Barton recommended that government examine sectors of industry that did not appeal to Caymanians, such as the hospitality industry, and work wth stakeholders to address these concerns.

“The increased demand and urgent need to expand the hospitality industry labour force, unless interim legislative reform is considered, will continue to outpace the resources of the BSPB in the short to medium term,” he warned

In his letter, he said he believed businesses genuinely searching for Caymanians to fill positions ought to be advertising in local newspapers because the WORC website was in dire need of an overhaul and was therefore not reaching its target audience of Caymanian job seekers.

“The current online portal on which job advertisements are published is in desperate need of revision,” he said. “The BSPB would encourage joint consultation between the Chamber of Commerce and WORC to address this mutual challenge.”

Mr Barton continued: “Though not required by law, it is good practice to always advertise in the local newspapers and the BSPB fails to see why this not the natural default position to be assumed by businesses genuinely in need of qualified applicants.”

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