Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday that hotels that will not be reopening until later in the year, may have to let go of staff and issue severance pay, then rehire when they eventually reopen.
Pinder told The Nassau Guardian that the Department of Labour hoped that industry workers would be getting back to work around this time, as the country begins a phased reopening of that sector.
“We hoped that we would have been able to start to get bookings, especially in the hotel industry, so that they can reduce the amount of persons that would have been affected by the layoff period,” he said.
“[But] presently, the hotels are still saying that is not sufficient time and they are kind of preparing themselves for some layoffs. Some already indicated they can’t open before October. If that is the case, they’re going to have to pay these employees severance pay and then rehire them when the property opens.
“Now, the danger involved in that is persons could end up losing seniority, could end up coming back as new hirees rather than coming back as staff in their old positions. And you know if you’re a new [hiree] that’s a different contract and their salary would start back at the beginning of the salary scale, all sorts of things. These are things that impact that decision.”
Pinder added, “This certainly would cause the number of unemployment to increase, we certainly know that.
“But we are hoping that at least by the end of the year, most of the major hotels will have reopened and they are able to bring these people back into the workplace, those who are qualified and meet the [requirements] because people have financial obligations and they need to be able to meet those commitments.”
The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation recently began its phased reopening of the tourism industry on Monday, with a full scale reopening set to coincide with the reopening of the country’s borders on July 1.
While some major hotels have phased reopenings set for July, a growing list of others announced delayed reopenings as late as by December.
Pinder said the delay does not only impact hotel workers, but others in the tourism industry as well, including “straw vendors, hair braiders, beach vendors, taxi drivers, tour operators, all the rest of them”.
“So, this thing has a huge domino effect on the country’s economy,” he said.
However, he said that the delay in reopenings could provide an opportunity for laid off workers to get involved in Airbnb, or look into providing services such as entertainment or fresh fish and produce to properties that are open.