HR body calls for dialogue

| 29/03/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Business News, Cayman immigration and work permits(CNS): In the wake of recent announcements concerning immigration, the country’s human resource professionals say they look forward to the changes being implemented not only in financial services but in other sectors as well, but want more dialogue with immigration. The president of the Cayman Islands Society of Human Resource Professionals has also called for more communication between the immigration boards and the business community about how they apply immigration regulations and what businesses need. Phil Jackson said the proposed new accreditation system should improve the situation for local employees as well as employers and strike a better balance.

“There is a need to identify a balanced approach to Immigration, an approach that will create an environment in which businesses can succeed while ensuring Caymanians are being hired, developed and given opportunities to also succeed,” Jackson said. “Our policies need to ensure that Caymanians are given opportunities to fill positions in marketing, human resources, financial control, operations and information technology as well as financial services and these new directives definitely allow for that.”

Jackson added that there needed to be more dialogue between the immigration boards and businesses to gain a better understanding of the needs of the private sector and more discussion on specific issues for both sides. He noted the problems surrounding the way Regulation #6 in Business Staffing Plans is applied. “It often appears to be applied in an ad hoc manner,” he said. “There is also a failure among certain businesses and their HR departments to identify and develop a successor to employees which have a Regulation #6 attached to their work permit, which the accreditation system will also address.”

Following meetings held with the society following government’s announcements about the proposed changes to immigration, the members all said more dialogue would be warmly welcomed. Although the first changes are currently only applicable to the financial services sector, the society looks forward to the system being rolled out to other industries.  According to a survey 75% of respondents support or strongly support the new immigration directives.

So far, the immigration regulations have been changed to make a number of important financial positions automatically key posts, offering key employ status to those work permit holders in those positions. The next stage that the Immigration Review Team plans to introduce is the accreditation system, which the chair of the IRT, Sherri Bodden Cowan, has said will be piloted with the financial services sector. She recently revealed that the IRT and immigration were aiming to have the legislative changes ready for the roll out by June or July this year. If the system works well then it will be implemented stage by stage across other sectors.

CISHRP members said they recognize the need to protect Caymanians and ensure that they are given every opportunity to secure employment and progress their careers in their chosen field, but at the same time there is a need for additional overseas employees to fill essential vacancies.  

In a statement regarding the recent meetings, the society said that as human resource practitioners they had a part to play in fostering better relationships in the workplace and maintain a harmonious and diverse work force.

“The society is confident that the new directives will assist Caymanians entering the work force and developing their career paths. Under the accreditation system, employers will need to train, develop, and promote their Caymanian staff,” the CISHRP said in the statement.

The members noted that under the proposed system employers will need to maintain good work ethics, policies and employment practices, become involved in community programs and have talent development programmes in place in order to realize the benefits of the accreditation system.

“Those employers who are not accredited may find attracting and retaining good Caymanian talent and the processing of work permits not as easy as those with accreditation,” the HR professionals said. 

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