Nanny being exploited by agency

| 16/08/2016

I recently spoke to a lovely Filipino lady who is employed by an agency here. She works five days a week with a family and then on the weekends the lady who runs the agency has her working for her at her home. She does not pay any health insurance for this lady. My question is, who can we report this agency to? Also, is there any point in reporting her as she and, I’m assuming, other agencies operate here in the knowledge that they won’t be inspected by anyone. I’m sure there are many individuals also exploiting nannies and I hate to think that we are living in a country that will turn a blind eye to this modern-day slavery.

Auntie’s answer: Your question actually points to more than one infraction. I contacted the Department of Labour and Pensions (DLP) to clarify the issue. As you, and most people, already know, every company is mandated under law to provide health insurance to its employees.

A DLP official explained that issues with health insurance must be directed to the Health Insurance Commission (HIC). You can call that agency at 946-2084, email the HIC or go to the commission’s website for more information.

The second concern is that the nanny is clearly working too many hours/days in a week, since she is apparently on one job or another all seven days. It is clear, as the DLP official pointed out, that these working conditions contravene Section 24 of the Labour Law, which regulates the total number of hours one can work in a week.

Subsection (1) says, “The standard work week shall not exceed 45 hours in any period of 168 hours and the standard work day shall not exceed nine hours.”

Section 25 then stipulates that overtime must be paid to an employee who works more than those specified hours.

The DLP deals with issues concerning work hours and overtime. The official said that the department would need more information on this particular case to be able to assist the nanny and suggested that she come to the DLP office (2/F Midtown Plaza, Elgin Avenue) any time Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm, to lodge a complaint. She can also call the DLP at 945-8960.

The labour representative added, “Please also note that all matters are treated with the strictest confidence.” I am a strong believer in reporting people or companies that exploit/mistreat their employees, so I encourage your friend to contact the DLP. I think at the very least it is worth a try, especially since your complaint will be kept confidential.

Let’s hope she can get the help she needs and her employer gets what should be coming to them.


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If the immigration department would provide an email address, I have a list of at least 10 individuals who are actively doing this and involved in this racket. If anyone has information on who to report these people to in the Philippines, I also have a list of 20 individuals who I can report. I’m sure if I ask around, I can find more.

    I do recall at one point Cayman was banned from having Filipino workers. It wasn’t for a long period of time. It was due to some safety of the people by the Philippine government. Well maybe the Philippine government should be made aware of incidents like this happening. Though unfortunately it is predominately the Philippine people taking advantage of their unknowing counterparts in the Philippines.

  2. Auntie, MM is telling the truth speak to her also Immigration.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is there any proof that these Agencies really know these helpers that they are bringing in? Or its just a money making business. Some of these helpers has never prepared a meal, ironed a shirt, cleaned a house and worst used modern appliances before. Then there are some of them with a list of prominent married and single men that they hope to meet. Some of these people seem to be so desperate that in the beginning they will accept anything just to get one foot in the door. CARE TAKERS seem to be the big thing especially since the Insurance will pay big dollars for their services. I suspect that shortly there wont be no domestic helpers as the CARE TAKERS will be the only applicants. Then they also have the advantage of getting the Roll over advantage.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Revise the immigration work permit form for domestic helper, ask more employer’s information. How big is the house, how many people in the family, number and age of children. The immigration should random check to all permit holders and employers. So many of these workers are doing part time jobs right and left. Penalties should be higher, and banning the permit holder from coming to cayman. The immigration should encourage people to report those who do part time jobs, working for other than their employer, those doing/selling/marketing products without business permits, selling numbers. So many permit holders are into illegal gambling, selling numbers, selling beauty products, supplements. Theres a lot of money going around selling numbers. If the immigration will step up and catch these people. confiscate their money, jail, and ban them in cayman islands. The tippers shuld be anonymous, for the safety of the person. Or it should be highly confidential, and rewards can be given to the tippers, lets say, additional 3years stay in cayman will be a big come-on.

  5. Miho says:

    There are employers taking temp. permit in exchange for 1200 to 1700ci. A permit to enable the person to come in cayman, and freely look for a job before the temp. permit ends. Those long timer here in the island has known a lot of people that can help them bring their relatives here by taking just a permit but no work, as long as they are willing to pay a certain amount.
    Usually, these paid employers have connections at the immigration. It is well known at the certain community here in the islands.
    Cayman Immigration needs to strictly scrutinize all permits applications.
    All applications should be accompanied with contracts, insurance, pensions
    Permit Application forms for domestic helper should include the employer’s job details, salary. house area/size, family member (how many adult, number and age of children, grand parents), any house pets. THESE informations can help the immig.officers if the employers needs 1 or 2 helpers (because there are employers that holds 2 helpers but actually only 1, and let the 2nd helper to work for relatives or friends. Getting a 2nd permit because the 1st helper beg them to help her daughter to come to the island),
    Employers should sign a form enumerating their responsibilities. obligations in hiring a domestic helper, also the penalties and consequences if they break the law.
    Same with the employee they should sign a form enumerating their condition of stay, things they cannot do/perform in cayman. penalties and consequences if they break the law.
    Regarding the employee complaining or reporting their employer to the dept.of labor, facing of losing their job, there should be help from the manpower to let her find a new job, with extended stay. And the employer if guilty, should be ban from getting another permit in the future.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, nothing will come of this. The desperate nanny will never proceed with anything in fear of losing her job. The agency will forever get away with it.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if she does report and lose her job, the Cayman Islands Government will happily provide another permit for the next employee to come and face the same treatment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly what I was going to type. Immigration can stop this if they want.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If both parties are happy, then whoever “spoke to a lovely Filipino lady” need to mind her own business. Because there is NO solution if both parties are mutually satisfied.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a classically ignorant response, does this person (it is obvious where he/she comes from) really think the Fili[ino lady is “happy” working all those hours and without medical insurance. This expoitation of low paid foreign workers has been going on since I arrived in the 60’s, on the basis if they complain they get kicked off the island.

    • Anonymous says:

      If an agreement is heavily one sided to favour another party, but both appear to be mutually satisfied can you really say that it is a fair and just agreement? One may have more bargaining power to get the other party to agree to their terms. In this case, an agency which has much more legal oomph than one lone Filipino woman would show this. When you no the other party has little to no options, you push to get what you want for as little cost as possible, no matter how inhumane or unjust it is. The agency took advantage of this woman and whether or not they are both “mutually satisfied” does not excuse the agency’s behaviour.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The worker will end up losing her job for reporting it so she will lose out in the end.
    That’s why most just keep their heads down and continue working.

  9. MM says:

    This is sad and VERY common. The trouble is these workers are happy not to pay the health insurance portion, they are just as happy as the agents are because that additional $60 to $100 a month in their pocket is BIG money. And, I am sure the lady realizes that if she “tattles” on this agency she will lose her work permit and may or may not have to go back home to much worst conditions, lower income and forfeit the chance to make a better life for herself.

    Everyday there is some new cleaning company or nanny agency popping up and believe me they are making more from “selling work permits” to the staff. Some agencies are charging the permit holders a monthly fee and then the permit holder must seek out work and contracts of their own while holding a work permit as a janitor or nanny for an agency. This gives them the ability to work for more than one employer easily.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What about the scenario where the individual is brought down by a person and not an agency with similar conditions? Add that the nanny was required to pay a substantial fee to be brought down for assistance to help find a job.

    What can be done to help these people? There are many of these.

    • Anonymous says:

      …well, the various laws we have that make all of these practices illegal could be enforced. But, you see, we do not do that here. Whether the reason we do not enforce is corruption or incompetence, or exactly where in our labyrinthine bureaucracy I do not know or care. All I do know is that laws are only followed by those that choose to follow them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Please state the agencies and the process on how to report and stop this madness. I know of someone/a couple who has done this and I would like to report her and her husband. They are not locals and do this as a secondary income by bringing Filipinos on island and charging them substantial fees to arrive. Faking all the necessary documentation to get them here. The couple are both on a work permits.

        They do intimidate the individuals they bring down and I want to equate it to human trafficking.

        • Anonymous says:

          If this is true just call your contacts in immigration, but be fair and report the vast number of locals who do the same thing.

  11. SKEPTICAL says:

    Typical “Caymankind” – this sort of exploitation of foreign workers has been going on for at least the past 40 years. But, that can’t be true – Cayman is a “Christian” community – yeah, really……

    • Anonymous says:

      12:09 great comment but…while I agree some Caymanians do this, not all do.

      I know for a fact that some employers from other nationalities residing here, also treat their helpers poorly too.

      Either way its a real shame. We must all treat people how we wish to be treated, no matter the type of work they do. And even more so when they care for your children and elderly family members.

  12. Sunrise says:

    This is one of the reasons, why we have so many work permits!! It is not that Caymanians are lazy, some may be, but the majority are not. The reason being, which I have stated before; these employers are abusing the employees. This employee, I am almost positive, will never make a complaint against their employer, for fear of being severely reprimanded!! This is modern day slave labour!! A Caymanian, at least this Caymanian, would never take such abuse from an employer, thus would be branded lazy and unemployable. I gave my 110% to my employer before becoming self employed, but to even consider working under such conditions are despicable. I am starting, “FACTS”, come January of 2017, and one of my fighting agendas, will be for equal rights and justice on these Islands!!! It is a shame how we exploit these persons for personal gain, thus losing our own reputation as being hard workers. I say to everyone under these circumstances, stand up and do not allow such abuse!!!

    • Yahshua says:

      Government is part of the blame. Certain tough laws need to be implemented and enforced; especially laws to address all exploitation issues, including sexual ones. And I sincerely believe within government there must be a bit of corruption between government officials and big business names. Because many complaints go unheard or even noticed. I think the UK corruption watchdogs have not done enough. It seems like our leaders are dragging their feet and we need outside intervention.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sunrise you are being so very silly. A Caymanian would NEVER take a position as a nanny or a helper. That is why there are so many permits out for these positions. People are forced to outsource these jobs.

      I know countless stories of employers taking great advantage of their labourers in these domestic positions. They treat them with so much disrespect it’s almost like they loathe having to hire them in the first place.

      • Sunrise says:

        Hi anonymous 8:48 a.m., you may have thought that it is silly. My point is, in case the bird flew over your head, is that most employers use work permits as a source to enforce SLAVE LABOUR, in all areas of employment!! I was using a wide scope of permits to engage in slave labour. I do appreciate your time, in letting me clarify this.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s easy for you to say. I am thinking of starting an association for Domestic and Maintenance workers. It seems that there are some very evil people treating others like slaves. I know of 2 Caymanian Lawyers that treat their helper like absolute trash. Make her work at 2 houses non stop with unbelievable hours. These people are desperate to help their families back home that they dare not make a fuss.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Auntie, did you not hear, these laws exist only on paper. You would not actually expect them to be followed, would you?

  14. Annie says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. If the employer or agent is Caymanian nothing will be done. That is why the good helpers only want to work for expats or halfies.