Some Baha Mar employees receive NIB benefits after weeks of impasse with govt.

Some Baha Mar employees receive NIB benefits after weeks of impasse with govt.
The Baha Mar resort on Cable Beach.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Scores of Baha Mar employees received their first payment from the National Insurance Board (NIB) this week, after months of waiting on benefits due to a stalemate between the government and the resort.

The government maintained that any employee receiving ex gratia payments from their employer would only receive unemployment benefits to make up a minimum of $100 in income support.

However, the resort found it “unfair” that NIB was refusing to pay out benefits to employees who were still receiving ex gratia payments.

The government has extended its unemployment benefit programme for individuals who exhausted their standard NIB benefit.

Individuals on the extension program will receive $100 per week.

In an update on the matter to employees, the resort advised: “Those people who work part-time or who receive ex gratia or other payments from the employer will only receive the difference between the ex gratia program and $100.

“Any person who receives more than $100 in ex gratia or other payments from the employer…will not be eligible to receive any government assistance.”

Dozens of workers have expressed frustration and anger over the delay, insisting that they were being pushed to the brink as they awaited payments from the government’s extended unemployment program.

The resort noted that the first payment was received from NIB on December 16 for those who qualified and deposits into employee accounts would begin December 18.

Baha Mar President Graeme Davis had encouraged the government to do its part and “act fairly” toward Baha Mar employees over NIB unemployment benefits.

He said the resort has paid over $70 million during the period of closure to make a “significant impact” to support employees and communities.

The multimillion-dollar resort development closed in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is expected to bring back 1,500 associates for the first phase of its reopening.