July 4, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Should civil servants have outside employment?


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Colin WilsonwebThe Caymanian Compass reported recently they had now received answers to a Freedom of Information Law request they made “to ministries and portfolios seeking information about public servants who declared having private gainful employment or business interests, how many public servants had a paid contract relationship with government in addition to their regular employment and the entity’s policy on private gainful employment by public servants.”

Not all civil servants follow the proper procedures and actually declare their outside employment and therefore the figures released to the Compass are most likely on the conservative side.

Overall, 151 civil servants reported having outside employment that equates to 4 per cent of 3,619 civil servants.

What is surprising is that it appeared the greater a civil servant’s salary, the more likely he or she is to have outside employment or business interests.

So, greater responsibility means I can give the bulk of my work to someone else below me so that I can do something else and really make some money.

How is this tolerated? How is it possible that it is even allowed?

The Compass reports:

“The types of outside occupations by civil servants are rather diverse. They include appliance repairs, auto mechanics, bartending, bus/limo/taxi driving, car washing, construction, DJ’ing, farming, gardening, hair salons, musicians, real estate, retail, sales, tour guides and tutoring. One postal service employee is a “financial industry board member”; one Department of Counselling Services employee is a “small batch coffee roaster”; and one Ministry of Health Administration employee has an “Internet based children’s bookstore”.

“For several civil servants, the descriptions of their outside employment or private business interests are rather vague, including ‘business’, ‘family business’, ‘N/A’, ‘part-time employment’, ‘website’ and even ‘?’.”

One wonders then if anybody actually bothers to look at these declarations?

One major problem with civil servants having outside jobs that has not been addressed is special interests.

Am I being too suspicious that I suspect the civil servant will take Government actions to favour the civil servant’s outside employer or other outside interests?

Am I being too suspicious that I suspect the civil servant will use access to Government information, property, or decision makers to further those interests?

And above all, I am VERY suspicious that outside activities will prevent the civil servant from spending sufficient time on the his/her Government work we pay him/her to do!!

I think ALL civil servants MUST seek approval before engaging in an outside activity.

I think ALL civil servants should be disqualified from working on a particular Government matter while engaged in an outside activity where they have a direct or even an indirect interest.

I think in many interests civil servants should be prohibited from accepting compensation for an activity.

And when a civil servant reaches a high (executive) senior position he/she should be prohibited from engaging in an outside activity.

The only exception to this is volunteer service by civil servants performed on their own time. This should generally be encouraged.

Even when it comes to fundraising I have a problem with civil servants with a high (executive) senior position permitting the use of his or her official title to further a fundraising effort, except when that person is the Governor!





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