October 25, 2020

Cayman: Ombudsman PR – LAT case delays

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A complaint filed by a Cayman resident who waited more than six months to have his employer’s appeal heard before the Labour Appeals Tribunal (LAT) has led to the discovery of nearly a dozen such appeal cases that have been delayed outside statutory timelines.

The delays discovered as part of a maladministration investigation conducted into the LAT, with the assistance of the Department of Labour and Pensions (DLP), identified 11 appeals cases that had been delayed beyond the three-month timeline set in the Labour Law (2011 Revision) for the hearing of such matters.

The delays ranged from just a couple of months to almost two years in some cases. The Ombudsman determined the LAT’s actions in not hearing the matters within statutory timelines amounted to maladministration, defined as ineffective or inefficient management of public affairs.

“To delay justice is an injustice,” said Sandy Hermiston, Cayman Islands Ombudsman. “It is simply not fair to make workers or companies wait so long for a hearing. It defeats the original purpose of the tribunal. On a positive note, the LAT and DLP have agreed with our findings and have pledged to resolve the situation forthwith.”

One method the DLP and LAT have suggested, particularly given the current situation with COVID-19 around the islands, is to hold appeals hearings via Zoom or other virtual meeting technologies, making it easier to assemble the parties involved. The first such virtual appeal hearing was conducted Friday, 5 June.

The Ombudsman has also recommended that the LAT be staffed properly to ensure such a backlog in hearing cases does not occur again.

DLP Director Bennard Ebanks said: “The Labour Appeals Tribunal operates independently of the DLP in order to hear the appeals of anyone aggrieved by the decisions of the Labour Tribunals. The staffing challenges identified by the Ombudsman will be addressed, as DLP will now be directly involved in measures to ensure the LAT is staffed properly to address the backlog in hearings. I value the input of all of our stakeholders in order to make the DLP, and independent Tribunals system better, and is an example of the complaints procedures, and subsequent investigation resulting in recommended changes for improvement.”

Ms. Hermiston commented further: “This type of cooperation from the DLP and LAT with our investigations is appreciated and will only help improve public administration in Cayman. The goal of our office is to promote good governance. This is rarely accomplished by simply identifying problems or mistakes without making positive and constructive recommendations which entities then act upon.”

To file a complaint with the Ombudsman, please contact our office at 946-6283 or via email at [email protected]. All matters are treated with complete confidentiality.

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