Employee Entitlements

It's always important to know your rights. We urge every employee to become familiar with their employee handbook in addition to familiarising themselves with Cayman's Labour Law and the proposed changes to that law.

Currently, the minimum terms and conditions set out in the Labour Law include two weeks annual vacation, increasing up to four weeks after 10 years service. This is in addition to the (approximately) 11 public holidays scattered throughout the year.

Employees are entitled to 10 paid sick days each year and 12 weeks maternity leave (20 days of which are at full pay and a further 20 days at half pay). Nine weeks adoption leave is available for female employees (of which 15 days are at full pay).

Upon termination of employment by the employer, there is an entitlement to severance pay, equal to one week’s pay for each completed year of service. There is a statutory unfair dismissal scheme which provides compensation equal to one week’s pay for each completed year of service in addition to severance pay in the event of unfair dismissal.

In 2015, there were significant changes proposed to the current Labour Law and it is anticipated that a new Labour Law will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly by the end of 2016. We strongly advise you to become familiar with your employee handbook, the Labour Law (2011 Revision) and the Labour Relations Bill, 2015.

Since there was not a revised Labour Relations Bill, 2016 published, there may be considerable changes that may be made in the future. You may contact Cayman’s Department of Labour & Pensions for more information. If you work in Cayman and need the Labour Department’s support regarding an employment matter, you may call this Confidential Hotline: (Tel: (345) 945 3073).

Listed below are some highlights from the public consultation version of the Labour Relations Bill, 2015:

Sexual Harassment: The Gender Equality Law, as well as the Labour Relations Bill, explicitly states that sexual harassment is illegal in the Cayman Islands.

Maternity & Paternity Leave: The Labour Relations Bill (2015) stipulates that at least 14 weeks must be granted for maternity leave. Additionally, the Bill entitles pregnant female employees, who meet eligibility rules, to be allowed to attend antenatal care appointments during working hours. While the amount of maternity leave is proposed to increase from 12 to 14 weeks, the amount of paid maternity leave remains the same (4 weeks full pay; 4 weeks half paid and 6 weeks no pay). The Bill introduces paternity leave by proposing that fathers are entitled to at least five days (paid) paternity leave and five days unpaid. Paid adoption leave is also being proposed for the first time for male employees.

Constructive Dismissal: Where an employee has experienced constructive discharge— that is an employer creates or allows for circumstances in the workplace such as harassment, discrimination, etc. to continue and the employee is left with no other reasonable option but to resign— he or she may make a complaint to the Director of the Department of Labour and Pensions and the complaint may be heard by a Labour Tribunal. Constructive dismissal is silent in the Labour Law, 2011 and the only remedy available was to apply to the Grand Court.

Caymanians: For employers, the Labour Relations Bill (2015) proposes that if a Caymanian is deemed “overqualified” for a position, this will not make that person ineligible for hire. Furthermore, to protect the local workforce, the Bill proposes that giving preference to hiring a Caymanian is considered legal and not discriminatory. It is illegal, however, to discriminate against someone based on their sex, race, religion, age, pregnancy, disability, politics and several other categories under the law.

Overtime & Weekend Hours

Working overtime and weekend hours in the Cayman Islands is the standard for many employees. As is the case in most leading jurisdictions around the world, many companies expect their employees to work beyond the normal eight-hour work day. Conversely, standard human resource (HR) practices may vary from country to country.

So before taking a job, familiarise yourself with the work culture. Ask your prospective employer’s HR professional whether overtime pay is provided or time in lieu. Again, knowledge of Cayman’s Labour Law will assist you in determining what is legal in Cayman.

Check the Department of Labour and Pensions’ website for more information on your employee rights. And the Cayman Islands Society for HR Professionals (www.cishrp.ky) is a great resource for HR professionals.

Health Insurance & Other Benefits

Health insurance in the Cayman Islands is mandatory. Employers are required to provide employees, their spouses and dependents with health insurance. Employees are also entitled to a pension plan.

Similar to other parts of the world, employers may offer enhanced benefits to prospective employees and it is not uncommon to see employers offering enhanced vacation leave, relocation expenses, additional pension contributions, bonus options, upgrades to premium health insurance and private school fees, amongst others. It can be very expensive to move household items to Cayman and different employers will have more or less generous relocation packages, so review the offer of employment carefully.

Many employers offer attractive health insurance packages for their employees, some even including wellness and preventative options. Click this link for the Health Insurance Providers page.