Baha Mar resort announced yesterday that it has made the “difficult but necessary decision” to make more employees redundant.
The Nassau Guardian understands that a little over 100 employees were impacted by the move, which took effect yesterday.
In a statement, the resort said, “The new reality shaped by COVID-19 and the resulting impact on travel and tourism are continuously evolving. As Baha Mar readies for the completion of its phased reopening, the resort made the difficult but necessary decision to further implement staffing reductions to adequately align with projected business levels and to comply with COVID-19 guidelines specifically regarding nightlife and entertainment.
“Baha Mar is in the process of communicating directly with each associate affected by this decision and [is] available to help guide all impacted through the next steps. All affected associates will receive severance pay in accordance with the law and are eligible for rehire.”
This is Baha Mar’s second redundancy exercise in less than a year.
In June, it announced that it reduced staff across Grand Hyatt, SLS, Rosewood, Melia, casino and Baha Mar’s shared services.
Although the resort never officially provided a figure of how many of its employees were let go, previous reporting by this newspaper indicated Baha Mar planned to make 20 percent of its 6,000 staff redundant, which represented 1,200 employees.
Many remain furloughed.
Yesterday, Baha Mar said so far 2,500 employees were “re-engaged”.
It also noted that an additional 700 employees have returned to work in preparation for the reopening of Baha Mar’s SLS and Rosewood hotels on Thursday.
“With the completion of Baha Bay and the introduction of new world-class restaurant concepts, Baha Mar anticipates creating an additional 500 job opportunities by summer of 2021,” Baha Mar said.
It said its spirit has been defined by the passion, hard work and dedication of each employee.
Baha Mar said their health, wellbeing and peace of mind are of “utmost importance” to Baha Mar’s leadership.
“Since the resort’s temporary closure on March 25, 2020, Baha Mar has singularly demonstrated its unwavering support for the economic relief and stability of its employees and the Bahamian community,” it said.
“To date, the resort has paid out in excess of $80 million in wages, ex gratia and severance payments and is continuing to support the remaining furloughed full-time associates with ex gratia payments, plus covering insurance premiums to maintain associates’ health insurance, life and accidental death and dismemberment (ADD) insurance coverage.”
The news of redundancies at Baha Mar comes two weeks after Melia Nassau Beach, which has the same owners as Baha Mar, announced that it was closing for renovations for two years thus putting roughly 300 employees out of work.
Last night, Director of Labour John Pinder told The Guardian that Baha Mar’s decision to cut staff is not necessarily “a bad sign”.
“The reality is…this would’ve been under normal circumstances at the beginning of the peak of the season,” he said.
“It’s not a bad sign. It is just the whole situation of not being able to collect revenue. And so, the thing is you still see them going as it relates to getting their water park ready and prepared for when this economy does open back or when the tourism market starts recovering and persons in the tourism sector can start to go back to work.
“So, I am satisfied that even though they had to make some persons redundant that the fact that they’re still enhancing their property and still trying to get their water park ready says that there is a silver lining behind these dark clouds.”
Pinder said The Bahamas’ economy and tourism product are “still on life support”.
“But, we’re stable,” he said.
“I think it’s fair to say that there are some signs as the United States has given a number of persons the vaccine for the COVID-19 and it is our view or we are hoping that persons will now begin to look at traveling.”
In December 2019, the unemployment rate stood at 10.7 percent, according to the Department of Statistics.
However, as the tourism industry and many business not directly related to tourism came to a standstill due to the pandemic, unemployment numbers swiftly rose with widespread layoffs.
On February 14, Pinder estimated that 40 percent of Bahamians were still not working. This included individuals still furloughed.
He said the unemployment rate likely stood somewhere between 26 and 28 percent.