Following the Privy Council Decision in favour of the Government of the Cook Islands confirming the overall constitutionality of the CINS Act 2000, the CINSF will be enforcing the registration of employers along with the payment of contributions owed by employers to their employees.
If you employ a person between the age of 18 – 55 years of age it is compulsory to register, if an employee is 55 years of age or older it is optional for the employee to choose to register, if you are self employed you are required to register, if you employ a foreign worker (including nannies) you are required to register. Registration is compulsory regardless of the amount a person earns.
The CINSF CEO Damien Beddoes explained “There has been advertisements in the newspaper along with media releases through 2016 advising employers to register to the CINSF and commence contributions for their employees, and the vast majority have now registered. Unfortunately there still remain a few employers that have failed to do so, and this is where the CINSF will now move forward with legal action”.
The CINSF is also working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration to identify all foreign workers and their employers to ensure registration as well as the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management to verify deductions against income and RMD numbers.
There have been a few complaints from employees where employers have taken contributions from them and have not passed these onto the CINSF for investment in the employee’s accounts. Beddoes explained “some of the employees in these cases have also advised us that they have been threatened by their employers with being fired if they raise the issue. This is deeply concerning to us, and we will be investigating these employers”.
All employees can access their account information online so they can view the contributions being paid into their CINSF accounts. This then enables them to identify when payments have not been made in line with the deductions from their wages. The CINSF office also provides for confidentiality to enable employees to lay their complaints against employers so the CINSF can investigate in appropriate cases.
The office of the CINSF welcomes enquiries from employers to assist them in meeting their legal obligations to register, and to assist in providing for the set up and payment of contributions.