Chamber asks government to pull equality bill

| 22/07/2011

(CNS): The gender equality law which is due to come to the Legislative Assembly in the next few months is too onerous for business, the Chamber of Commerce has claimed. The Chamber, which represents local business, as well as the Cayman Islands Law Society are calling on government to withdraw the bill so that amendments can be made to it before it becomes law. The proposed bill was gazetted last month and deals with a variety of issues relating to equality, discrimination and the rights of employees. It also includes protections regarding sexual harassment in the work place.

The long awaited law has been in discussion for many years, and although many elements of it have been contained in other pieces of legislation, the bill provides for tribunals to hear cases of discrimination on a variety of issues that are not just gender related. However, the Chamber has said it wants to see the law revised to make it more practical, easier and less costly for employers to implement.

“The Chamber supports anti-discrimination legislation but the bill as drafted will increase the cost of doing business and adds more red tape at a time when businesses are struggling to keep their costs under control,” said Chamber President James O’Neill. “We strongly recommend that government withdraw the bill in its current form so that additional time can be given to consider the changes proposed by industry associations. Adding more bureaucracy and costs for employers at this time should be avoided at all costs,” he stated in a release from the Chamber.

The business representative body is not the only group that appears to be concerned about the bill, which essentially offers greater rights to workers in general and not just women.

The Cayman Islands Law Society has drafted a letter listing nine areas of concern, and aside from being supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Caymanian Bar Association, the Insurance Managers Association of Cayman and the Compliance Association have all offered their support to the society’s correspondence. Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association has also submitted a separate letter expressing similar concerns over the law.

“The business community as a whole is largely ignorant of this law and its effect. We do hope that the opportunity for wider consultation is given to the private sector to enable it to be able to air its concerns about the legislation, and for those concerns to be given due consideration and acted upon,” wrote Charles Jennings, President of the Cayman Islands Law Society has said in his letter to government.

 “While in principle we wholeheartedly support anti-discrimination legislation such as this, we fear that it may hinder employment and add to employers’ costs as they endeavour to implement it – at the very time of high unemployment, when every effort should be made to encourage hiring,” he adds.

Jennings and others are questioning how the new legislation will work alongside the Labour Law for maternity leave and discrimination, as well as the definition of remuneration, indirect discrimination, vicarious liability, paternity leave, harassment, and composition of the tribunal, forms and agreements.

However, local legal firm Walkers said responsible employers have nothing to fear fromthe bill but firms will have to ensure they are compliant. Nicholas Dunne, an associate with Walkers dispute resolution department, speaking on the new CML-TV said that the law offers more protections to employees by enabling them to take discrimination issues to a tribunal rather than having to pursue their cases through the courts.

He said it would affect all employers who need to familiarize themselves with this law which is expected to come to the Legislative Assembly during the next meeting.

See law here  and see CILS letter below.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I find it … interesting … that persons, in an article about the Chamber of Commerce (emphasis here) are calling for a 'union' for bussinesses, i.e., for the owners. Maybe that so then they could have two clubs to object to anything good for the workers. Like gender equity in hiring, minimum wages, decent health insurance and pensions. They probably think safe working conditions are a bonus. Bring your own smoke detector.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Chamber of Commerce, and the Cayman Islands Law Society are two organisations that always leave me scratching my head.  Where are they on the minimum wage; where were they on the mass status grants?  silent!

    These are the defacto government of the Cayman Isalnds make up of a bunch of good people with no good intentions towards Caymanians, the middle class and the poor.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 16:17

      You cant  blame the Chamber of Commerce, you have to blame yourselves, they have their behind- the -scene  union, and running things.

      For a long time now,  you Caymanians had, and got all the opportunity, to get off  all your asses, and unit for what you all want, and stop looking to the Government to do these things for you.

      The Government is always going to be your compediter, all they do, is hang out in parliment,and make policies, laws and regulations to bring in more and more revenue.

      Form yourself a union, get a lawyer to repesent the union, let him do the  lobbying to your Government, and tell them what you as businesses people, and workers want, dont let them dictate to you…you have the majority.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Chamber of Commerce is having too much say in bills being passed.  It's time to pass this bill and the minimum wage one too.

  4. Anonymous says:


    Shame to oppose this, especially in the guise of supporting it.

    Shame to think that they are more deserving of 'time to consider' than everyoen else.The draft bill has been published. Everyone gets to comment equally. Welcome to democracy. The Chamber, etc., are  no more importan than I, the woman (or the worker if you prefer) that will be protected by this.

    Shame if you don't read it and comment yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a gender equality bill, what about the men who will also be "protected"?

  5. Anonymous says:

    There will never be a good time for The Chamber to back this law and it will continue to be sidelined forever as they bicker about so-called "fine-tuning". If the Chamber had acted responsibly, they would have issued a statement of absolute support for the principles contained within the law and then provided specific recommendations for admendments to the areas they were concerned about. They have had years to do so already, and have not been forthright. Other businesses have had the same opportunity. Human rights should not be subservient to personal business interests, and if a business cannot provide the rights due to economic reasons, then their is something fundamentally wrong with their priorities and those of the Cayman society in general.

    • Anonymous says:

      Human rights are not self evident as is presumed.  Notably the 'right' to health(impossible in the end), and the 'right' not to be discriminated against(rule by statistics, and results in positive discrimination).  They are Liberal/Socialist leaning(not in itself a bad thing), and conflict with natural rights.  

      Its _political_, and, again, not self evident

      P.S.  I do not hate humanity because I criticise 'Human' Rights(Liberal Rights)

  6. nauticalone says:

    I find myself agreeing with "Walkers" here on this!

    The Chamber said increasing costs at this time "should be avoided at all costs". "At all costs"?


    • Anonymous says:

      This country is not going to stop indroducing these damn human rights laws, untill they fu@@b up the businesses, then there won't be any businesses  to tax. 

      The Government is imposing Union laws and policies on the traders,  without a union body, this is so inhuman.

      Caymanian business owners, I can predict this, we need to immediatly form a trade's union. Otherwise It will be  a constant struggle between the Government and the businesses in this country.

      Reason why? The Government is competing with the private businesses…they need all the revenue they can get. More status grants =more trade & business license=more revenue for the government…= well established Caymanian businesses losing revenue.

       No Government cares about you striving in your business.

      Their business is to generate the most revenue they  possiblely can.

      The Government  already levy two taxes  on the citezens of this country…. the health Insurance averages 15% of one's Income, which is only feeding the rich Insurance companies.

      The Pension which takes 10% combined Employee and Empoyer's Income, that is already 25% of your Income that you woun't be able to spend, on raising your family. The greedy pension providers are asking for another 20% on to top of that. My Caymanians businesses, that is 45% tax no matter how you look at it.

      And guess what? we are paying for all the public servant's pensions and health Insurances, and  we can't object to it, do you know why? we do not have a unionise body.

      Sweet isn't it? they keep telling us, Union is a bad thing…well we will have to live with it, sinse we are that dumb.

      • Anonymous says:

        ha ha ha ha have you found your way out yet?  do you know where you are going?  are you safe on your own?  do you normally talk nonesense?  did any of your writing make sense 10 minutes after you've written it?  if you've answered yes to any of these questions, please check yourself in at the george town hospital psychiatric unit.  vrooooooomm…

      • Adam Smith says:

        But competition will improve efficiencies and reduce oligopolistic profits thus helping reduce the cost of living in Cayman.  Or do you want to go on spending top dollar for second rate goods bought on the grey market and sold with a massive mark-up?

      • truth says:

        Your last sentence is all thats needed. thanks.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Chamber and other businesses are dodging what they should have put in place years ago, proper equal rights and justice for each employee of a company. PASS THIS BILL quickly. To the Chamber it is all about dollars, not sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 09:15

      Pass it like they did the pension bill…right! and hurt all the small businesses, especialy the construction industry.

      This industry might have work 7 months out of a year…if they are lucky, and you know what, these same companies have to find the money out of their pockets, money they don't have, to continue  paying  for their worker's contributions, is this what you want?

      I take it you are an employee, ready to take some company to the cleaners for your benefits.

      The time has long past, for Caymanian businesses to form themselves, a union.

      Otherwise we will end up working just to pay taxes and benefits.

      It's no wonder businesses are closing their doors  daily. ( lost of  revenue for the government)

      Where are our equal rights? I can see alot of companies suing the Government for their rights, the rights to opperate  a business without all this bullshit… burden.

      I hope the Government invites the small businesses on this one, and don't ram it down their throats.


      • Anonymous says:

        This poster has obviously never run a business in the real world.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The chamber is showing it's hand in this issue. It is interesting that I haven't heard anything about minimum wage recently. Did it pass and I missed the announcement?

    • Anonymous says:

      One thing that I see is so wrong and that is for example if a civik servant dies and that wife remarrys, she will not receive the husbands pension. After all the poor woman will get lonely and if decent she will not want to shack up but instead have a husband. I think that the pension should be paid out to that woman. Come on Mack we want you to look into this . Also long term Board Members and also JPs I feel is well deserving of free medical or some perk for the work that theey do.


      • Anonymous says:

        Why should she get the pension? She's not his widow anymore if she remarries and in fact is not connected to him in any way. I suppose you think she should also get his medical benefits too??!! No, no, let common sense prevail.

        • Anonymous says:

          If a woman has spent most of her life helping her husband to take care of the family and he dies before her I THINK THAT IN ALL FAIRNESS SHE SHOULD BE GIVEN EVERY BENEFIT THAT HE HAD COMING TO HIM. This is purely discrimination . Remember that not every marriage in Cayman is a convenient marriage. Not to mention those long standing Board Members and their spouses , and what about the very active JPs? Come on lets be fair. I am certain that every Politician past and present want every possible benefit for their family while alive or deceased.


      • Anonymous says:

        How about the former politicians?  Do we really need to pay them a pension for the rest of their life even if they did only ONE term? Seriously?! What a waste of money!

        How about revisiting that?  Most of them have other jobs which they receive an income.  Yes it is in the law but laws can be changed and this one seems to be something to rethink.  The terms should be different such as starting at GASP retirement age and only if the individual has no other means of income – including if the spouse makes a reasonable income.