Changes to Cayman’s Pension Law are expected to take effect “in a matter of days”, Premier Alden McLaughlin said Monday, once the amendments, which were passed in the Legislative Assembly last week, complete the final process for gazettal.
On Monday evening, Governor Martyn Roper tweeted that he has given his assent to the changes, as well as the other legislative amendments passed by lawmakers.
Roper had just hours before at the daily COVID-19 press briefing committed to signing the changes to the law “the second it hits my desk”.
“I gave assent to the bills passed by the Legislative Assembly’s historic virtual session last week, including the Pensions Law. It will hopefully be gazetted tomorrow [Tuesday,]” Roper tweeted.
Under the changes, individuals will be allowed to withdraw $10,000 from their private sector pension funds and an additional 25% on the remaining amount after that.
The amendment also grants an automatic six-month pension holiday for private sector employees. Those who wish to continue to make contributions can do so, but it will be allocated as voluntary.
On Monday, the premier, responding to queries at the press briefing on when the changes would be sent to Roper for his assent, said the timing is not in his hands.
“We passed the law. The process has to take its course. It has to go to through the clerk, it has to go through the AG [attorney general] and we wait on the governor to sign it and then to be gazetted. But it’s only a matter of days; it will be sometime this week … early this week I would expect,” McLaughlin said.
During the briefing, concerns from the public were raised that some pension providers have reported system problems, in particular email issues, resulting in people being unable to send requests for pension access.
The premier urged individuals to reach out to the director of the Department of Labour and Pensions with their concerns.
“If they can’t get through by email, they should try to deliver a hard copy. But if there are issues like this, I would hope that they would write to the director of the Department of Labour and Pensions to make these complaints so that we can follow them up. There really is no good reason, I think, why [the] email system should be down,” McLaughlin said.
He also pointed out that, under the law, the pension providers have seven days to acknowledge receipt of the application for access to the funds, after which they have 14 days to “respond yay or nay” to the application, and 45 days to deliver the funds.
The application form for requesting the withdrawal has been prepared by the director, he added.
The premier said civil servants who may have private sector pensions from previous employment can apply to access their funds.
However, he said, staff at statutory authorities or government companies are public servants and, even though they may be paying into a private sector pension, they are “expressly exempted from the provisions of the legislation”.
This means they cannot access their funds nor do they qualify for the pension holiday.
“So, if Cayman Airways has a pension scheme with Silver Thatch to which money is contributed on behalf of the employer and on behalf of the employee that continues,” he said.