Unhappy with unpaid overtime work

| 07/02/2017

I am a professional employee here on island for a large multinational company. Our employer regularly makes us work 10-12 hours per day, five days a week (50-60 hours per week). Section 24 of the Labour Law stipulates that the standard work week is maximum nine hours per day/45 hours per week. I have agreed in my contract of employment to waive overtime pay (as allowed for by Section 25(3)). With regards to this, however, does Section 24 still apply, and, therefore, is my employer breaking the law? Can they legally force me to work more than 45 hours per week without consequence? Am I entitled to leave after nine hours per day without consequence?

Auntie’s answer: As with most labour questions, I consulted with an official at the Department of Labour and Pensions (DLP), who first pointed out that you referenced the appropriate sections of the Labour Law (2011 Revision) concerning your situation, as an employee working in a professional capacity. Unfortunately, however, that is the end of the good news.

Based on your description of the situation, this is what the DLP official said, “It would appear from the facts provided that the employee agreed to waive overtime as per section 25(3), by signing the contract of employment provided by their employer.  As such, the obligation to pay overtime to that employee in accordance with subsection (1) shall not apply.”

The only other option is if you want to try to change the terms of your contract, at which point it is recommended you seek legal counsel.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library


Category: Ask Auntie, Labour Questions

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Enforcing strict overtime laws is actually one of the way to make Caymanians more attractive for local employers (and improve life for everybody). One of the reasons certain companies prefer to hire expats is that such relationship is more akin to master-slave and they can force expats to work overtime much easier than they can do the same to Caymanians.

    If there was strict enforcement of labour laws – like in some European countries, where employees are not even allowed to enter office on weekend and if inspection finds somebody working after 7pm they will fine employer – then hiring expats would get less convenient for employers and there will be no disincentive to hire Caymanians.

    You shouldn’t always look at how something done in the States – it was enough to copy their horrible healthcare system.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hope this helps:AICPA Reacts to Department of Labor Overtime Rule, Encourages Action in Congress

  3. Anonymous says:

    My understanding is that although there is no obligation to pay overtime wages if it has been waived in the contract of employment, any hours worked over the 9 per day or 45 per week have to be mutually agreed by the employee and the employer. If not mutually agreed, it would be quite easy for an employer to abuse their authority in making employees work abnormally long hours.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Not sure I understand , person ‘Waives entitlement to overtime pay ‘ and now complains about said unpaid hours in overtime. Welcome to the Cayman scheme of indentured servitude .

  5. Anonymous says:

    Overtime waver is a condition of your employment. This issue has been beaten to death not just in the Cayman Islands, but in the USA for example. The employer sticks “managerial duties” in your contract, even if you are just an entry level professional. It is legal, and there is no way around it other than not accepting a job offer. It is also a known fact that if you divide 65-75K you are being paid per year by the number of hours you actually spent at your workplace, you will make less than a fastfoods employee per hour. You have to spent more hours at work because you must produce fixed number of billable hours.
    On the bright side the “slow” months allow you to spent time on the beach right after 5pm or even have flexible hours.
    Not everyone can survive this brutal billable hour treadmill for long. But that was your career choice.

    • Anonymous says:

      3000 hours divided into $75,000 is $25/hour. How is this a problem?