Despite a growing population, there are still many employment opportunities available in the Cayman Islands.
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Despite a growing population, there are still many employment opportunities available in the Cayman Islands.
Overseas Job Seekers
The Cayman Islands has numerous employment opportunities in the financial services industry, making it a desirable jurisdiction to be employed in, and it attracts professionals from around the world. Jobs in other sectors (medical, education, construction, retail) exist mainly to meet the demands of the local market. Many jobs are available in these fields, and we discuss them in detail later in this chapter. The Island has a well-educated local workforce, but the need for qualified accounting, legal, compliance and financial services professionals, especially those in high-level finance positions, completely outstrips the number of qualified candidates available locally. The 2021 Census puts the total number of employed adults in the Cayman Islands at 44,441, of which 19,494 are Caymanian and 24,947 are non-Caymanian. Therefore, foreign workers make up a large percentage of the workforce (56.1%) and come from around 135 different countries. The unemployment rate is 5.7%. In the third quarter of 2022, four industries fuelled Cayman’s economy: finance, healthcare, construction and tourism, although the latter has still to return to its previous pre-pandemic strength. More and more financial service businesses and individuals, including family offices of high-net-worth individuals, are moving to Cayman. The need to show an economic presence in Cayman has incited some of this growth, as has the huge need for compliance workers who are quickly snapped up by legal and corporate services firms. The Global Citizen Programme has also opened opportunities for people to move to Cayman who want to live and work in the jurisdiction, and although it was due to end in late 2022, there has been talk of it continuing due to its great success.
The most effective approach to finding good employment depends on what type of role you are suited for and how soon you wish to relocate.
A good place to start is with one of the recruitment agencies that are based in Cayman.
Strict work permit regulations exist to ensure that Caymanians, the spouses of Caymanians, Permanent Residents and existing Residents are given preference, in that order, for any position. The rules present some unique hurdles to the expatriate jobseeker, so a basic understanding of this process is required to put the employment market in context and avoid finding yourself in a position that is improvident at best and disastrous at worst. Unless contracted to Government, expatriates must either hold a valid work permit, a Special Economic Zone Certificate, a Certificate of Direct Investment, a Residency and Employment Rights Certificate or hold Permanent Residency with the right to work in a prescribed occupation or occupations in order to work and reside in the Cayman Islands. The administration of work permits is the responsibility of the Cayman Islands Government Department of Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) and they are the legal obligation of your employer. There is also an understandable emphasis on the training of local staff to ensure that they have an opportunity to develop their skills. The onus is on the employer to demonstrate to WORC that they have tried to fill the position with a Caymanian by advertising the job on the JobsCayman website. Only after all efforts to recruit locally have failed can the employer rightfully justify a work permit application. This process must be repeated periodically (usually once every two years) depending on the employer’s circumstances. Some employees can, however, be granted work permits of up to five years’ duration or, in relation to senior positions in the financial services industry, up to 25 years.
Work permits can take as long as three months to be processed, although they are often issued within six weeks of application. Temporary Work Permits (for anything from 30 days up to six months) can be granted within a matter of days (if an express fee is paid), but they are generally discouraged in favour of full (i.e. one-year) permits. Temporary Work Permits should only be used when the circumstances justify it, for example, where there is genuine urgency or where the employment is temporary in nature, as in the case of a time-sensitive project or maternity cover. A Seasonal Worker’s Permit allows the employee to work for eight months. Where employees are only required for very short periods and no residence in the Islands is expected, exemptions from the work permit restrictions can apply in particular circumstances. Other types of permission, such as a Business Visitor’s Permit or even a Visitor’s Work Visa, may be appropriate alternatives.
Note: a work permit is granted for a specific position with a specific employer. This means that a work permit holder is not entitled to work in any other capacity or for any other employer and any significant changes to the person’s role within an organisation must be approved by WORC prior to the individual taking up a revised role. If you want to take up employment with a different company while you have an existing work permit, your current employer must provide a letter to WORC releasing you from your work permit. You should, therefore, be doubly sure that any position is right for you before committing to a long-term contract. Once employed, you should take some time to consider your situation before your employer applies for your work permit renewal, as you are effectively bound to them from the time of application until the expiry of the permit, unless the permit is cancelled at the employer’s request.
It is unlikely an employer will be granted a work permit unless: a) the proposed expatriate employee is professionally qualified or very well experienced in a relevant field, or b) there is no interest in the position from the local workforce (which is actually fairly common). This creates something of a “Catch 22” for those expatriates without a professional qualification. The better the position, the higher the level of interest from the local workforce and the less likely it is that an expatriate will be granted a work permit.
There are certain occupations that presently seem to hold little appeal for existing residents. These are often positions that offer little job security, irregular or anti-social hours of work, or a somewhat unpredictable or unreliable income stream. Examples of such lines of work are diving, nursing, construction, food and beverage service, security services and most commission-based sales positions.
Please note that it is a legal requirement for all work permit holders and their dependants (over the age of 12) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They must provide documented evidence that they have either completed an approved COVID-19 vaccine course or pledge their willingness to undertake an approved vaccination course.
Labour Force & Work Permit Numbers
As of August 2022, there were 32,184 work permits in effect, up from 26,967 exactly a year earlier. These work permit holders hail from 136 different countries, including Jamaica (14,061), the Philippines (4,907), the UK (1,878), India (1,702), Canada (1,215), Honduras (1,230), the USA (892), Nicaragua (686), South Africa (577), Nepal (528) and Ireland (381).
Rules on Residing On-Island Whilst a Work Permit is Processing
WORC authorities generally dictate that individuals should not be present in the Cayman Islands while a Work Permit application is in process. However, this does not apply if you are already legally resident, including, for example, working legally on a Temporary Work Permit (TWP) and the full version is submitted to WORC before your Temporary Work Permit expires. Generally speaking, without special circumstances or the consent of the Director of WORC, no one is permitted to remain in the Cayman Islands as a tourist/visitor while a work permit application is being considered. Once your permit is approved, you can return to the Cayman Islands and start working.
It should be noted that if you come to the Cayman Islands on a Temporary Work Permit, and your subsequent Full Work Permit application is denied, you will have to cease work immediately and may have to leave Cayman on short notice, unless permitted to remain by virtue of some other provision.
Rules on Dependants
It is important to be aware that your spouse or children are not automatically entitled to reside in Cayman even if you hold a valid permit. He or she must be a named dependant on the permit and a separate application must be filed. All accompanying dependants must also submit an original medical questionnaire (if over 18 years of age) and, if it is a spouse, a certified copy of your marriage licence, civil partnership, any final divorce decree, and an original police clearance certificate. If the dependant is a child, a certified birth certificate naming you as a parent and (if old enough) a letter from a Cayman Islands’ private school confirming acceptance is required. Where appropriate, arrangements for homeschooling can be made. WORC will consider, along with other factors, your ability to financially support your dependants. Dependants can also be added to a Temporary Work Permit. For more information see the Immigration chapter.
Work Permit Term Limits ‘The Roll Over’ Policy
In 2004, the Cayman Islands introduced an immigration “term limits” policy, a necessary consequence of near exponential growth of the population over the previous four decades. Under current provisions, most expatriate workers can only remain in the Cayman Islands for a maximum of nine years, unless they have applied for Permanent Residency (PR) on passing eight years of legal and ordinary residence. All such applications must generally be made by the ninth anniversary of the expatriates’ arrival to live in the Cayman Islands.
The point system for awarding PR provides workers with greater transparency and certainty. This system permits everyone who qualifies to apply for Permanent Residency following a clear and objective set of criteria.
Labour Law - Know Your Rights
We strongly advise you to become familiar with your employee handbook, the Labour Act (2021 Revision), and the Gender Equality Law (2011 Revision). Below are some of the highlights of the laws governing employment in the Cayman Islands:
Sexual Harassment: The Gender Equality Law (2011 Revision), states that sexual harassment is illegal in the Cayman Islands.
Maternity Leave: The Labour Act (2021 Revision) stipulates that 12 calendar weeks must be granted for maternity leave. The amount of paid maternity leave is four weeks (20 days) full pay; four weeks half pay and four weeks no pay, for all female employees who have completed 12 months of employment otherwise it will be on a prorated basis.
Holiday Pay: According to the Labour Act (2021), each employee is entitled to a minimum of two weeks’ vacation (10 working days) for the first four years of employment, three weeks (or 15 working days) for years four to 10, and four weeks (20 days) if employed for over 10 years for the same company.
Severance Pay: Under the Labour Act (2021), all employees who have continually worked for their employer for more than a year are entitled to receive severance pay if their employment is terminated for any reason other than for misconduct and poor performance, at a rate of one weeks’ salary for every completed year of service. For part-time employees, severance pay is calculated based on the ratio of their hours of employment to the standard work week.
Unfair Dismissal: If an employee feels that they have been unfairly dismissed they have 90 days from the date the employment was terminated to file a claim for unfair dismissal with the Department of Labour and Pensions. If the employee is successful with their claim they may be entitled to further compensation if the Labour Tribunal deems fit.
Minimum Wage: The current national minimum wage is CI$6 but the PACT government run by Premier Wayne Panton have committed to reviewing it as many feel it does not provide a living wage. Currently those in service positions who receive a portion of their income via gratuity can be paid CI$4.50 per hour, and domestic helpers who receive benefits (such as a car and accommodation) in their salary package cannot be paid less than CI$4.50 per hour.
Overtime & Weekend Hours
As is the case in most leading jurisdictions around the world, many companies expect their employees to work beyond the normal eight-hour workday. Conversely, standard Human Resource (HR) practices may vary from country to country. 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 the Labour Act will assist you in determining what is legal in the Cayman Islands from an employment law standpoint. Check the Department of Labour and Pensions’ website: www.dlp.gov.ky for more information. The Cayman Islands Society for HR Professionals (www.cishrp.ky) is also a great resource.
Finding a Job
Despite a growing population, there are still many employment opportunities available in the Cayman Islands. In fact, in August 2022, the leading financial services recruitment agencies told Cayman Resident that it is currently a candidate-driven market and that those with qualifications and experience in the accounting, legal, financial services and compliance fields are readily snapped up. This is a time of amazing opportunity for Caymanians in the financial services field as they are highly sought after and in much demand. However, it is commonly acknowledged that the appetite for qualified financial professionals outstrips supply and population growth is just not filling high-level finance jobs. Although there are 32,184 work permits in issue as of August 2022, these jobs have filled a genuine need and cross the span of everything from gardener to managing director at a bank. A very effective way to look for work in Cayman, whether local or expatriate, is to register with an employment agency, as they are often tasked with finding suitable candidates. Another option to investigate is whether your business could set up a branch within Cayman Enterprise City and you then work in Cayman.
If you are a global professional, entrepreneur or student and have the opportunity to work flexibly and remotely, you may want to consider The Global Citizen Certificate (GCC).
The GCC enables individuals who wish to take part to work remotely in the Cayman Islands for up to 2 years. The programme does not require that you have Cayman residency; you just have to be willing to work remotely for a company and/or business that is abroad. It is the perfect opportunity for those looking to relocate to a Caribbean paradise and take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic's working-from-home-exceptions. Applicants must have a minimum annual income of US$100,000 for individuals, US$150,000 for couples and US$180,000 for families.
A requirement of the GCC is that, before your arrival to the island, you must find a property to rent or buy. Many real estate companies in the Cayman Islands would be happy to help you begin your search for the perfect home, apartment, condo, or even resort suite. For more guidance on how to apply for the programme, get started on finding your property and other logistics, please see the page below.Read More
Caymanian Job Seekers
If you are an educated or skilled Caymanian, you should have an advantage in this job market, particularly in certain sectors such as the financial services.
In addition to contacting any of the local recruitment agencies on Grand Cayman for assistance in finding a job, Caymanian job seekers can also register with the Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) and see what jobs are available. Please see here.
As a government public/private initiative the Ready2Work KY programme is designed to support employers as they make efforts to employ Caymanians, and support Caymanians as they seek to gain and maintain employment. While employers focus on the development of technical and subject matter skills and expertise, the Ready2Work KY team is on hand and ready to deliver services designed to address any barriers to employment. Caymanians, those married to Caymanians, Permanent Residents or Legal and Ordinary Residents are invited to join one of the orientation sessions which provide in depth information about the various programmes on offer such as Ready2Work KY, Passport2Success, Internships, Apprenticeships, Job Link and other employment initiatives. To register for the orientation session, call (345) 945 9672 or email email@example.com. You can also go to their offices (1st Floor, Apollo House West, Mary Street) where they will assist you. You will be required to produce your passport, birth certificate, Caymanian Status letter and proof of your immigration paperwork. You will be required to upload the documents noted below depending on your immigration status.
Jobs in the financial services market in the Cayman Islands are diversifying more now than in the last 15 years. It used to be almost all legal and audit work, followed recently by a lot of compliance work; however, since the introduction of the International Tax Co-operation (Economic Substance) Act (2021 Revision) in January 2019, the landscape has changed.Read More
Cayman's top legal firms are internationally known, solution driven and client focused. These global players are able to attract the top lawyers from London to Hong Kong, even from London’s magic circle firms.
Most of Cayman’s top firms specialise in corporate and international finance law, focusing on investment funds, capital markets and structured finance. Cayman law firms are also internationally renowned for advising top asset managers and institutional investors from around the world, as well being involved in high level international insolvency and restructuring deals. It is not surprising that the legal industry on Island continues to experience growth.
Lawyers should note that if they are seeking to practise Cayman Islands’ Law, there are strict Bar admission requirements. To be eligible for admission, non-local lawyers must have at least three years post-qualification experience gained in a relevant jurisdiction (UK, Ireland, NZ, Australia, Canada and certain Caribbean nations), as well as previous financial services experience, preferably in mutual/hedge funds, insurance, insolvency, finance or commercial litigation.
Teaching positions in private schools regularly come up. See the Education section and apply to various schools directly.
Teaching and Education jobs in the Government schools, as well as positions within the Ministry of Education, are advertised on www.careers.gov.ky. To apply for a position, you must create a profile on the website and then it will let you apply for a specific position. The same jobs are also posted on the Ministry of Education’s Facebook page: @educationcayman. Teacher recruitment is typically done from January to August, with late resignations and support staff being recruited from late August to December. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Their HR services team will respond to your enquiry very quickly.
Employment contracts for teachers are generally two years in length, include a range of benefits and are subject to an annual performance process.Read More
Medical professionals fully registered in Australia, Canada, Jamaica, the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA may be eligible to practise in the Cayman Islands once they have become registered with the appropriate council. This applies to both doctors and nurses. The latter must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or its equivalent and they must have a minimum of three years of experience as a Registered Nurse before they can practise in Cayman. Consultants and doctors with specialist training are preferred at all registered health care facilities.
Please visit the Department of Health Regulatory Services website for complete information about the registration process and requirements at www.dhrs.gov.ky.
For more information on recruitment at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA), please visit the employment and training section on www.hsa.ky, where they list job vacancies.
Doctors Hospital is a locally-owned provider of international-standard, private-sector healthcare services. They post their job openings on the careers page of their website. See www.doctorshospitalcayman.com or email your resume to email@example.com.
Health City Cayman Islands is a private, institutional tertiary care hospital located in East End with a satellite clinic in Camana Bay. They are also in the process of building a new hospital next to Camana Bay. They accept applications from qualified healthcare professionals from around the world. Email your resumé to firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
Other Skills & Professions
For those with qualifications, skills or ambitions not related to financial or legal services, finding good employment may require more research and legwork. Most reputable recruitment agencies will be able to point you in the right direction and some may have vacancies within your field, so it will be a matter of researching those agencies that may be able to help you. If you are Caymanian, a Permanent Resident or currently on a work permit, you can register on the JobsCayman portal and see all the jobs which have been posted on there. Employers from top firms have access to this database and regularly post job listings on this online system. The department of WORC, in conjunction with the former NWDA has a Career Assessment Centre and also provides free career counselling and training to Caymanians. You can also use LinkedIn, the Compass classifieds or Yello to make a list of potential employers and write to them enclosing your resumé. For your cover letter, remember to include when you will be available to work, your skills, qualifications and your marital status. Some Cayman employers will also be interested to know if you currently reside in Cayman and if not, you should be prepared to have a convincing case for moving and being committed to your potential employer. Most employers will not reply unless they have a suitable vacancy. It is good practice to follow up with a call to their Human Resource Manager to confirm receipt and enquire as to any current vacancies available.
The field of office temping has changed significantly in recent years. No longer can an employment agency relocate you to Cayman, hold your permit and lend you out for a few weeks here and a few weeks there. Now the employment agency has to have a contract from a local Cayman firm showing where you are going to work, for how long and what work you are doing. The reality is that there are many Caymanians now filling those temping jobs and expats are only needed if the job is genuinely temporary by nature and no Caymanian can be found. If you do want to sign up with an agency you should do as much research on them as possible. A good agency will be able to provide references from current and past staff-members, together with contact details, which will allow you to confirm their authenticity yourself. For other specific industries the situation is as follows:
The construction industry in Cayman has been booming for the past two years. For the first six months of 2022 there were 487 planning approvals, 559 permit approvals and 227 Certificates of Occupancy which suggests that the trend may continue for some time. For every General Contractor/Construction Company in Cayman there are probably at least ten subcontractors, and over the last two years these subcontractors have been overwhelmed with work and highly sought after as General Contractors have had dozens of jobs to do and not enough staff to do them. So much so that subcontractors have commanded much higher prices and, along with higher costs for materials, the cost to build in Cayman has soared. However, by Q3 2022, many major projects have come to completion and General Contractors, although still incredibly busy, have found that subcontractors are more available and willing to be competitive on pricing. If you are interested in working in the building industry in Cayman, this is how you get a job: Construction companies get sent random resumes from people all the time and it is very hard for them to know what is genuine. So, we spoke to a few firms and they said that they would much rather a personal and persistent approach: a cover letter showing that you have done some research on the company you are applying to, a willingness to get on a Zoom call to have an initial meeting, and the persistence to follow up if you don’t get a response within the first week. Better yet, if you are an expat, you follow that up with a holiday to Cayman and you arrange to meet with a few companies. Local companies are really looking for high-end, luxury residential homebuilding experience from project managers who would consider themselves the best of the best. This is where global recruitment has come into play. More jobs in the local construction field are sourced through international head-hunters than anything else right now. Local recruiters also know that there is great demand right now for skilled craftsmen. For those seeking a job in the construction industry in Cayman you need to be licensed. Please see www.planning.ky and look under the ‘Resources’ tab for professional licences required for those in the building industry.
Local recruiters also know that there is lot of demand right now for skilled craftsmen. We recommend that you find a list of local construction companies and contact them directly.
For job vacancies at Statutory Authorities and Government Companies, visit www.gov.ky/careers/sagc/sagc-c.... For jobs within the Civil Service you now need to go through the Government’s careers portal: https://careers.gov.ky as this is where all Civil Service jobs are posted and where you need to create a profile before you can apply for a specific position.
Most people love working for the CIG. There is good job security, the hours are reasonable and the pay and benefits are good. If you are identified as a hard worker, you can also often get transferred to a different department if you would like a change.
Medical professionals fully registered in Australia, Canada, Jamaica, the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA may be eligible to practice in the Cayman Islands once they have become registered with the appropriate Council. This applies to both doctors and nurses. The latter must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or its equivalent, and they have to have a minimum of three years experience as a Registered Nurse before they can practice in Cayman.
Consultants and doctors with specialist training are preferred at all registered health care facilities. Please visit the Department of Health Regulatory Services’ website for complete information about the registration process and requirements at www.dhrs.gov.ky.
For more information on recruitment at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA), please visit the Employment and Training section on www.hsa.ky.
The Doctors Hospital, a locally-owned provider of international-standard, private-sector hospital and healthcare services. Email your resume to email@example.com.
Health City Cayman Islands is a private, institutional healthcare facility with Medical Tourism designation and accepts applications from qualified healthcare professionals from around the world. Email your resumé to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legally, all electrical and plumbing workers require a local licence to work in the Cayman Islands. Plumbers are licensed by the Plumber’s Examination Board and should contact the Planning Department about specifics of the process. Information can be found on www.planning.ky, under the ‘Resources’ tab. Electricians must satisfy the CI Electrical Board of Examiners that their qualifications meet the requirements of the Electricity Regulations. Call the Planning Department on (345) 244 6501 for more information. In all cases, a certified copy of your licence, trade certificate and trade references must be submitted along with your application for a local licence.
For Kirk Market, you can visit their careers page and see what positions they have vacancies in.
Hotels and restaurants usually hire in September and October to fill positions in time for high season, which starts in December.
Visit the Good Taste website at www.caymangoodtaste.com to contact the restaurants of your choice. It is recommended that you mail your resumé directly to specific restaurants and those that are interested will call to interview you over the phone.
Seasonal permits for six or eight months are easily obtainable.
Jobs in the Diving Industry in Cayman
The diving industry in Cayman are desperately in need of diving professionals and as of Q3 2022 are actively looking for both experienced and newly qualified diving instructors. Dive companies in Cayman post their jobs on a Facebook page called Dive Jobs Worldwide and they would also love you to send them your resume directly. The industry suffered terribly during Covid but has bounced back since it has become easier for tourists to visit. There is an expectation that all final restrictions on unvaccinated tourists visiting the Islands will be lifted by the coming high season 2022/23.
There is increasing demand for expats in IT positions as the tech industry continues its steady growth on the Island. With Cayman Tech City (part of CEC), TechCayman and the need for expertise within areas such as Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Cyber-Security, organisations are having to look further afield to find the specialist skillsets needed. There is also an increased number of positions available in the software development (specifically within the .NET space) and network engineering fields in addition to project management, product management and business analyst roles. These positions are often advertised by, and filled through, employment agencies.
Companies tend to seek mid-level to senior candidates for roles within tech and are generally very happy to sponsor work permits and provide relocation support to qualified candidates. The exception to this would be within the areas of IT support and network administration where there is a significant local workforce, so overseas applicants are usually not considered.
If you have any questions about finding a job in the IT field then read this Blog by Claire Murray as it will clarify everything for you, and she has also written one of the qualifications needed to work in the IT world in the Cayman Islands.
Office Support Staff
There is a high demand for compliance professionals, corporate administrators, legal secretaries and trust officers and these positions are generally filled by employment agencies. Both Caymanians and expats are needed and it is commonly acknowledged that there are more positions available than people to fill them. There are a few Personal Assistant positions, but these positions are generally filled by Caymanians. Support staff in accounting firms also tend to be local.
The major recruiters in the retail field are Island Companies and Kirk Freeport. Both would be happy for you to contact them directly; you can email Island Companies at email@example.com and Kirk Freeport via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sales jobs in Cayman usually have a commission-based component and consequently Caymanians tend to avoid these jobs. The best way to find a sales position is to make a few phone calls from your home country, introduce yourself and then send your resumé.
Staff are most often hired locally and promoted from within the particular business. Some jobs do occasionally become available and in these cases, recruitment is done through employment agencies. You can also find a list of the telecommunication companies in Cayman to contact them directly.
Dart Enterprises and Caribbean Utilities Company are large companies that may be seeking motivated employees.
Dart Enterprises is the holding company for a portfolio of companies. Based in Grand Cayman, the company has a global reach with investments around the world and its holdings include real estate, development, property management, retail, finance and technology. Visit Dart Careers for all the current vacancies and recruitment information.
Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), is the local electricity company. The Company’s workforce is currently comprised of 85% Caymanian employees and 15% other nationalities, leading to a diverse working environment. Employees are given a number of opportunities for training, which allows growth and upward mobility within the organisation. If you are interested in joining the CUC team, you may email your resume to email@example.com or visit www.cuc-cayman.com and navigate to the ‘careers’ tab on the home page.