(CNS): Officials from Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) have released some details about the administrative fines they imposed in 2019, 2020 and 2021 on rogue employers and employees. WORC said it has issued fines worth a collective CI$1,045,154 to businesses and individuals for more than 400 immigration violations, and has so far collected approximately $740,000 from This money.
According to Labor Minister Chris Saunders, many of the fines were made possible by whistleblowers. They were distributed for a wide range of wrongdoing, such as failing to disclose where a Caymanian applicant had applied for a job and illegally paying for a work permit, where employers charged workers the cost of the permit .
“This government is sending a clear message that if people want to continue doing business in the Cayman Islands, they must play by the rules,” said Minister Saunders, head of WORC.
“These rules are not arbitrary. They are not voluntary. They are the law of the land. These laws are designed to ensure that Caymanians have fair opportunities in their own country, which is no different than any other country in the world requiring their nationals to be given priority.
He said businesses and individuals must ensure they remain compliant with immigration laws to avoid being fined or prosecuted.
Over the three-year period, WORC actually collected C$740,256.60 of the total fines. Costs in the amount of CI$200,472.50 have been transferred to the courts for further determination, but CI$104,425 are likely uncollectible due to the inability of those involved to pay. In these cases, other avenues of redress are followed, officials said, including revoking the affected work permits.
There were several repeat offenders, WORC revealed. In 2019, two companies and four individuals were the subject of multiple violations. In 2020, one company and four individuals were fined for multiple violations. In 2021, three companies and eight individuals violated immigration laws multiple times.
Saunders said public assistance to “whistleblowers” had been vital, as he thanked the many people who used the compliance portal and reported suspected violations. “We serve the public and also need the public’s help in identifying and prosecuting offenders,” he said.
Acting WORC Director Jeremy Scott described new measures in place to improve detection of breaches and enforcement of relevant laws.
“I am also pleased to report that the WORC is improving its compliance unit through a number of strategies, including a review of administrative systems to verify whether an offending company or individual has the financial means to pay an imposed fine” , did he declare.
Saunders added that if companies or individuals are unable to pay, the case will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for review and potential legal action.
Scott said WORC’s computer systems are being upgraded to ensure timely notification of expired work permits, which will be provided to the compliance unit for tracking and enforcement. In addition to these measures, a high-risk register of repeat offenders is being set up, which will be closely monitored,
Saunders said that in addition to monitoring and punishing repeat offenders, the government will reward employers who follow the “letter and spirit” of the law when hiring, training and advancing Caymanians. He explained that this would be accomplished through a new accreditation system based on their past and current HR practices.
“While we have a strong focus on compliance, enforcement and redress, we are also keen to give credit where it’s due,” the minister said.
According to information published by the WORC, offenses sanctioned during the three-year period include:
- Not disclosing a Caymanian candidate;
- Hire a person without a work permit;
- make a false representation;
- causing a person to overstay;
- Being employed or working outside the terms of a work permit;
- Not answering honestly;
- Illegal payment for a work permit; and
- Possession of a false document.
The table below provides a breakdown of fines issued and collected in 2019, 2020 and 2021 (provided by WORC):
|Total number of offenses||Companies||People||Total fines imposed||Total fines collected||Not collected/ To research||Not collected Remained/reassessed|