The Department of Immigration in the Ministry of Border Control and Employment, on March 4th, introduced a shift system of work for its employees that are designated to the Providenciales International Airport, in response to historical anomalies in staff earnings, inefficiencies in operations and expenditure and as mandated by an Internal Audit Report's findings on overtime paid to airport staff and its recommendations.
While the system is newly introduced, the move to such has been discussed with staff over the years and in March of 2017 the Internal Audit Department released a report on its findings and key among the recommendations was the implementation of the long talked about shift system.
The shift system seeks to normalize the pay rates for overtime, regularize the long work periods that staff are currently exposed to and improve the overall efficiency of the operations of the Department and particularly at the airport.
The shift system has major benefits to both the Government as well as employees: improved efficiencies and better utilization of human resource, justifiable and more controlled incurred overtime cost; regularization of hours worked to eliminate fatigue and excessively long work periods; more opportunity for personal/family time and periods for rejuvenation. Shift systems are not new to TCIG as well as the Prison, Police and other agencies currently operate on shift systems
The Department recognized the efficiency of schedules of staff being aligned to flight arrivals, as the audit found that whilst TCIG was contracting hours of employment from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, there were very few arrivals before 12 pm and peak capacity between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
Management however further recognized that in order that a shift system be effective, it required additional human resources and budget appropriation for the payment of overtime, as the other recommendation by the Audit Committee was that the rates in the Public Service Handbook be used instead of the flat rates of $10 per hour that were historically paid.
The report further identified that staff previously worked excessive hours without days off and that this was impacting the work of the organization. This move presented an increase of 100% of the current overtime payments, funding which the department could not sustain. However, the staff push for payments of the Public Service Handbook rates, which is due them, compelled management's move to implement the system.
It is unfortunate that on implementation, shortfalls on human resource resulted in excessively long lines and unduly long waits in the entry process for visitors and other travelers arriving on Sunday and Wednesday, March 4th and 7th, respectively.
The Ministry and Department appreciates and recognize the value of tourism to the TCI economy and the critical role that Immigration Officers play in welcoming our visitors, and on receipt of these reports, management immediately consulted and further met with the Deputy Governor and Minister of Border Control and Employment to address concerns, with a view of implementing mitigating measures.
Management's commitment to the ongoing and continuous improvements in the Ministry of Border Control is evident in the recent promotion of 7 Assistant Immigration Officers to Immigration Officers, the provision of necessary and critical tools and other resources and the regularization of their work hours and overtime rates and payments. The department has also recruited 3 additional new candidates and with an additional recruiting exercise to shortly get underway.
We apologize to all persons and businesses affected over the past few days and assure you that we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that we meet our visitor’s expectation and experience.
We take this opportunity to thank staff for their hard work and to congratulate those who received promotions this week.