Hoteliers and BIU back redundancy reprieve
Hoteliers have welcomed the Government's planned temporary redundancy payment reprieve, while a union leader described it as a “win-win”.
However, concerns remain in the industry about the impact of potential severance payments later this year, given the length of time it may take for the industry to get back up to full capacity.
Legislation that will effectively give businesses more time before they have to terminate laid-off staff will be tabled tomorrow in the House of Assembly, Jason Hayward, the new labour minister, said on Tuesday.
Under the proposed amendment, the requirement for employees laid off for more than four months to be made redundant and paid off will remain. However, the three months from April 1 to June 30 will not count towards the four months.
Stephen Todd, chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said yesterday: “This is welcome news for our industry and the extension has been well received.
“The one caveat is that the hotel industry is probably the one that will be the slowest to fully reopen.
“How fast we can bring back all of our colleagues will depend on how quickly we are able to attract bookings for our properties.”
The BHA had called for changes to the redundancy section of the Employment Act in a letter to David Burt, the Premier, on May 11. The letter stated that if the law remained unchanged, “businesses, including a percentage of our member properties, will be forced to permanently close their doors with a catastrophic and negative impact on our economy” and an increase in Bermudian unemployment.
The Government has announced that LF Wade International Airport, which has been closed since March 20, will reopen in Phase 4, which is slated to start on July 1.
Mr Todd said hoteliers had been receiving inquiries from people seeking to book, and those who had previously booked, asking about the health and safety guidelines for visitors.
“We will be monitoring bookings very closely and will be aiming to re-employ as many people as possible during the next four months,” Mr Todd said.
“We look forward to continuing our discussions with the Minister of Labour.”
Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, which represents hotel workers, said the Government had taken “the correct approach”.
Mr Furbert said: “We have to understand no individual employer caused this pandemic. It's worldwide.
“The Government had to make the decision to close the borders. It affected the hotel industry, hotels had to close — it hit all kinds of business.
“To take the pandemic and say for this three-month period, it's not going to be part of the redundancy, I thought it was good enough for the employee and the employer.
“I'm trying to be fair. Neither party should take advantage of this situation. What they've done here is a win-win.”