Baha Mar begins first wave of layoffs

Baha Mar begins first wave of layoffs
The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Baha Mar began its first wave of firings today as it seeks to reduce its staff count of around 6,000 employees by 20 percent, Eyewitness News can confirm.

According to several employees, who did not wish to be named, Baha Mar personnel contacted them this morning via phone to advise of their termination due to the extended closure of the resort and economic climate as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to sources, 1,200 employees will be laid off in this first wave.

Baha Mar plans to reopen on October 1.

The resort had originally set to reopen on July 1 when the country reopens its border to commercial carriers.

However, the date was pushed back to allow for a “more successful reopening”.   

The mega resort suspended operations in March due to the pandemic.

All non-essential staff were sent home until further notice, leaving around 300 employees on   

Full-time staff received the equivalent of 40 percent of the base salary as of March 26, for up to 90 days.

Thereafter, the resort made the decision to provide an ex-gratia payment for an additional 90 days at 30 percent of those employees’ base pay — in addition to the employment benefits staff receive from the National Insurance Board.

In a letter to staff earlier this month, Baha Mar announced further layoffs will be made at the end of the month.

At the time, the resort said it will communicate to the individuals being impacted by the staffing reduction to discuss what it will do to support and assist them in making their “transition as smooth as possible”.

It the resort would continue to monitor the impact of the virus and the result economic downturn of the United States.

While wrapping up to budget debate in Parliament last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the government has budgeted $40 million for temporary income replacement for individuals still unemployed when their unemployment assistance ends.

NIB payments conclude at 13 weeks.

The government’s benefit will extend from 13 weeks to 26 weeks.

He said: “As we reopen in phases, this income replacement will provide bridge support to these individuals to begin to get back on their feet.”

Unemployment in The Bahamas has been estimated up to 40 percent, though the joblessness rate cannot be authenticated until the Department of Statistics completes another unemployment survey.

At last report, 55,000 people have sought unemployment benefits in The Bahamas.

According to Minister of the Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle NIB processed over 34,000 claims for unemployment benefit and paid out around $49.8 million as of June 9.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.