he New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association has alleged that the underemployment rate among casino workers is “far more” serious than suggested by the statistics presented by the local government.
The association held a press conference last week providing its insights into the casino industry’s unemployment situation. The association pointed out that over 20,000 gaming industry employees are now underemployed, by which the association means the workers are subject to unpaid leave as well as other welfare cuts, as reported by the Macau Daily Times.
The underemployed population comprises those employed persons who have involuntarily worked fewer than 35 hours during the seven days prior to the hours being recorded and have sought additional work during the prior 30 days, or have not sought additional work but have been available for additional work during the seven days prior to being surveyed.
Employed persons taking unpaid leave due to poor performance during the seven days before enumeration are also classified as underemployed if they worked less than 35 hours (or even did not work at all) during the seven-day period.
Government statistics show that between June and August, the underemployment rate in Macau was 3.7%. “The insufficient employment [rate] among gaming employees is far higher than the statistics released by the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) suggest,” the association said. According to Cloee Chao, president of the association, in some cases, the employees were forced to accept a specific unpaid leave policy because if they failed to conform to the instructions, they would face retribution, for instance, having to work prolonged night shifts.
With the National Day Holiday taking place last Thursday, some casino employees were still on unpaid leave, the association said. Overall, the association reported that local casinos are still implementing their current unpaid holiday policies, which are expected to last until the end of this year or January 2021.
The association said that some gaming companies had already instructed part of their workforce to resume duty for the holidays. The group believes that gaming companies have estimated an increase in service demand following the resumption of travel permits by mainland China. However, despite the possibility of small-scale business recovery, casinos may continue implementing their unpaid leave policies.
Furthermore, the association revealed that, in the second half of last year, it received complaints from over 500 casino employees who are dealers, security, cleaners and restaurant workers, criticizing their employers for having ordered them to arrive 15 minutes in advance of their shifts commencing to attend work meetings. These workers deem such demands as overtime work.