Equality at work now law

| 03/02/2012

equalpay-final.jpg(CNS): Despite some lingering opposition in the business community, Caymanian workers finally enjoy protection under the law from gender discrimination. The Gender Equality Law, which came into effect on Tuesday, promotes equal treatment in the workplace but does not impose quotas, as has been suggested. It will also pave the way for Cayman Islands to join the 187 countries around the world that have ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). “Whether you are male or female, employee or employer, learning your rights at work under the Gender Equality Law will benefit our islands while creating an equal future for our sons and daughters,” said Mike Adam, the minister who steered the passage of the law.

“I also encourage local employers to take the online pledge and demonstrate to our community, and the world at large, their commitment to making the Cayman Islands a world-class jurisdiction in which to live and work,” he added.

The law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of marital status and pregnancy as well as gender issues and crucially stipulates equal pay for equal work. The legislation also categorises sexual harassment as discrimination.

The term ‘gender’ is often incorrectly assumed to mean women but the law extends to men, too. When the law was passed last year in the Legislative Assembly, the minister pointed out that while it was undeniable that discrimination against women is a feature of the Cayman workplace, the discrimination men faced was less apparent but no less real.

However the most obvious discrimination is the pay gap between men and women.

“When we dig deeper and actually look at the statistics that are available to us, it becomes glaringly obvious that men and women in the Cayman Islands are not afforded equal opportunities, nor are they on a level playing-field when it comes to income and other areas,” Adam said.

While labour force surveys have over the last decade or so shown that men and women are almost equal participants in the work place, this equal participation does not yet translate to income. Women make up the majority of the two lowest salary brackets and 83.3% of people making less than $800 per month are women, as well as 63.5% of those making less than $1,600. Being confined to the poorest of the poor is extremely challenging when women are often the sole bread winner for their families with no or inadequate financial assistance from fathers.

Meanwhile, men comprise some 65.5% of those making $7,200 or more a month. “Not only are women under-represented at the highest salary brackets in our country but they are also, more often than not, paid less than men for doing the exact same work,” Adam said when he introduced the bill.

“The provisions in this bill will no doubt be an opportunity for women and men to seek redress of discriminatory practices,” he added.

Enforcing the new law and workers' rights will require the commitment of employers to follow the law but more important will be the willingness of those facing discrimination to make sure they report cases of inequality and unfair practices. The Gender Equality Tribunal will hear discrimination complaints and those found to be practicising discrimination can be forced to pay up to $20,000. A person who fails to comply with a direction of the tribunal commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction and a fine of $5,000.

Although the law is far reaching and ensures protection for all, there are certain exemptions in sensitive areas such as in hospitals, prisons or other establishments where a person requires special care or supervision to be done by someone of a particular sex.

Adam said there would need to be a shift in the way employers think and do business. He said the rewards would be worth any challenges encountered on this learning curve and there was “nothing complicated or wrong” in supporting gender equality. Although some in the business community have objected to the bill because of the costs they say it will impose on them, the minister has stated that there is virtually nothing that businesses have to do to stay on the right side of the new law other than ensure they do not discriminate.

Stating that there was also a strong business case for promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace, he said international research shows that companies which have a higher percentage of women in the workforce and as senior decision makers are more productive and more profitable.

The minister said government was committed to taking equality beyond fair wages to ensure women in Cayman were offered equal opportunities in every aspect of life.

Download a copy of the law or take the pledge www.genderequality.gov.ky

Category: Local News

Comments (52)

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  1. Slowpoke says:

    It will be interesting to see how some of the large law firms, who are amongst the biggest offenders, will address this issue.

    • Killer Chicken says:

      Billable hours don't lie.

      • Anonymous says:

        Funny, I have colleagues who can bill 15 hours in an 8 hour day.

        • Anonymous says:

          I think you will find that they were at work for longer than 8 hours. It is a rare lawyer that leaves work at 5:00 p.m. on a consistent basis. Also you need to understand how billable hours work. Time is charged in increments of 10 or 15 minutes depending on the firm so that if a telephone call lasts 2 minutes it is charged as 10 or 15 minutes. On that basis it is possible to bill for a longer period than you are actually at work although it is extremely unlikely to be the ratio that you suggest.    

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want my male pms days off, paternity, extra bathroom breaks and special treatment while we are talking about equality

    • Ya Mon says:

      OK, but then we all have to look at your butt while you walk around…

      • Anonymous says:

        You do that already but it is only sexual harrassment if it is done by a man.

      • Anonymous says:

        Go ahead, mine will keep you up at night – but by the way, you haven't made a point relevant to the discussion.

  3. EYE ON ISALND says:

    One of my validations are the way I used to witness a husband beating his wife when she didn't have dinner ready. Many Cayman men would beat their wife at the drop of a hat and I need not go any further. Drinking was a big problem with Cayman men as well. Lets leave it there.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have heard of women beating men too, but what does this have to do with work place discrimination?

  4. Through The Looking Glass says:

    Another law and a good one I might add, but will it be enforced?  Like the NPL?? 

  5. Knot S Smart says:

    So now will men be expected to drive equally bad as women?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Like all the other laws forced upon Cayman from the UK and the Bill of Rights they will remain meaningless until they are actually enforced. Until then women will remain only a "sacred vessel".

  7. Anonymous says:

    So that Adam and Eve part in the bible about the Extra Rib needs to be modified now?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why did the woman cross the road?

    Who cares what she doing out of the kitchen? Lol

    But seriously, this is great news. now where’s my dinner?

  9. Anonymous says:

    We want equality! …and flowers and for you to hold the door and special treatment…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Those very uninformed persons who spout off that Cayman "has always kept women down" should adjust their perspective and get real. To them I will say, if you don't know what you're talking about it's best to stay quiet. If you have to speak up, as is your right, be accurate! Cayman, like the 'islands time forgot', that they were at that time, did not afford women the right to vote until decades after other places. But culturally, Caymanians were always a matriarcally-dominant people. Our mothers have been the people who ran our islands while their men were out at sea and gone to the Cays, or gone and never returned. So quite contrary to the views of  'EYE ON ISLAND' , women have, in fact, always been held UP in Cayman. Aside from not having the right to contribute to the political machine and exercise that right, Caymanian women were always very prominent, influential and successful in our society. The facts prove it. Our history is short, so appropriate perspective applies.

    Our history tells of an early settler, large landowner and dowager who help establish our first capital, Bodden Town. As professions developed, many Caymanian women were firsts in professional fields from the late 19th and early 20th century, Mrs. Flora Robinson, for example and without even naming the well-honoured lady National Heroes, other prominent women in different areas of our society – Attorney Annie Bodden, Ms. Una Bush, Mrs. Hope Glidden-Borden, Mrs. Cook-Bodden, a mere few of times past and of current times, view Mrs. Jennifer Dilbert's career, among many other prominent and influential women. 

    So where is your validation EYE? 

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree that historically women in the Cayman islands built this country.  While the men were away at sea, it was the woman who got this island built to where it is today.  However, this changed a few decades ago when young men stopped going off to sea at age 16 and I have seen massive inequality towards women here in Cayman.  Perhaps Caymanian women were less affected but expats, expecially those from 3 world countries, are consistancy treated poorly and have to suffer sexual harassment from business owners while getting paid less than their male counter parts.  

        just my $0.02

  11. sandra says:

    I don't get it!  I am a woman and I have not seen gender discrimination in the Cayman Islands like other places. I must have missed out on something 🙂

    • burn notice says:

      I'm guessing you're a CAYMANIAN woman. Anyone who doesn't see discrimination on every level in the Cayman Islands should take their head out of their, or their sistas, a**

       

       

  12. Anonymous says:

    Great news…so what is going on with investigation of the premier?

  13. Anonymous says:

    at last!…I can now sleep soundly at night…zzzzzzzz

  14. Anonymous says:

    men and women are not equal…… but should be treated equally….

  15. Anonymous says:

    You obviously have not met my wife.

  16. Slowpoke says:

    That's great, now get me another coffee honey.

    This is a start, but behavioural and attitudinal change is going to take a lot more time and effort.

  17. EYE ON ISALND says:

    Cayman has always held women down. Main reason why there is no Boundary Commission single member districts to keep them out of power. There is no human rights for women here.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The cost of living just doubled becos of this newly legislated entitlement. When men start to lose their jobs becos the company hs to pay their women workers more,  wonder what the wives of those job-lost men will say?

    • Kung Fu Iguana says:

      How about those wives tell their husbands : "Can you do the shopping and cleaningwhile I am out at work?"

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't know about that, but it's possible some men will lose their jobs because they don't know how to spell.   

       

  19. Anonymous says:

    When I get my three months paternity leave then we will be 'more' equal

    • Anonymous says:

      why are you planning on giving birth? 

    • Anonymous says:

      If you can squeeze out a baby, then we'll be more equal 🙂

    • Luvnkisses says:

      I am sure that can be arranged as soon as you are capable of giving birth, breastfeeding and all the other physical “delights” that go hand in hand being a new mother you insensitive tool.

      • zeek says:

        When you can do all those things without the need of a man, or any part of a man, we'll shut up.

         

        Women, like men, only wayyyyyyyy more expensive. And fun.

    • Anonymous says:

      When you are able to carry and deliver the baby that should not be a  problem!

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh so it's okay for women to get a benefit when something about them is 'different' from men but when men are different in a way and need more than women the women need to be equalised to the men.  In other words women want equality plus – plus a few extras.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who said anything about carrying and delivering a baby?  I was talking about 3 months off to be with my wife and newly born child, instead of just two weeks

        • Anonymous says:

          Many countries have already instituted paternity leave.  I'm not sure why you think women would have a problem with it.  It's your government you need to lobby.  Three months is a pittance anyway, compared to what some others countries give.

      • Anonymous says:

        I understand. Those are your natural limitations. But why is that the employer's problem and why should they have to pay for it? That is a form of discrimination.   

  20. Anonymous says:

    Unless you're a gay woman in which case you're going to prison.  What does CEDAW say about that?

  21. burn notice says:

    So I can only assume that the RCIP will take the lead and start to eradicate the intolerable inequality at play there then?

    Angelique Howell for Commissioner!!

  22. lmao says:

    That pic cracks me up… im just glad everone will finally get fair treatment… or will they???

  23. Anonymous says:

    Inequality at work law

  24. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, a law does not change a culture . . . . .

     

  25. Anonymous says:

    Equality? What a relief. My wife had me convinced women were superior 🙂

  26. Anonymous says:

    Man, is that tribunal going to be busy!