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Employment, insurance, paid holidays: how coronavirus could harm Nevada workers

2020 CES set up

Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau

Workers assemble a lighting truss in preparation for the CES on Thursday January 2, 2020, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

In the midst of a pandemic, health insurance may seem like a necessity. But for a Las Vegan, who was fired from his job at a theater lighting company on Wednesday, health insurance may be one of the first things to do while adjusting his finances in this difficult time.

“I have a lot of bills: childcare, paying with the car, are many things. At the moment, health insurance is not at the top of my list,” said the worker, who asked not to be identified out of fear. not to be hired.

He was one of about 40 employees in the Las Vegas area laid off this week by Christie Lites, due to the coronavirus, said founder and CEO Huntly Christie. Employees from other states have also been fired from the stage lighting company, which offers concerts, conventions and conferences.

“We worked very hard to create and assemble a team. It was a really painful process to see people lose their jobs,” said Christie, who doesn’t know how long it will be before the company starts to take over.

Other event companies are laying off lighting technicians, production planners and others as events and conferences are canceled in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Christie said. The disease has infected over 130,500 people worldwide, including over 1,300 in the United States and eight in Clark County.

In Las Vegas, a hub for conferences and conventions, the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Adobe summit and the conference of the Republican Jewish coalition in which President Donald Trump would have participated last week are among the events deleted. One of the alleged positive cases of coronavirus in Clark County is a New York resident who attended the Women of Power Summit which was held March 5-8 at the Mirage.

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For those working in the event planning industry, Christie expects the economic impact of coronavirus to be devastating, leading to potential failures for some companies.

“When we talk about shows, these are shows that tens of thousands are coming globally,” he said. “When you think about hotel occupation, convention center fees, all the work, it has to be a big chunk (of people).”

The economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are making themselves felt worldwide, with US equity indices plummeting last week. But the financial budget for everyday workers in Nevada, ranging from layoffs to lack of paid holidays or health insurance, should cover all Nevadians, said Erika Washington, executive director of Make It Work Nevada.

“I think what worries me most is that there are many people who are experiencing paychecks for paychecks and barely scraping,” said Washington. “Something like a disease is what puts people underneath. You end up in that cycle of poverty that is difficult for people to get out of. “

Governor Steve Sisolak signed an emergency regulation last week that requires state health insurance companies to cover tests for COVID-19, the virus that causes coronavirus. Uninsured can be tested for free by visiting a federally qualified health center, Southern Nevada health district spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said.

For those who need to self-quarantine after being positive or awaiting test results, the health district will work with patients to “meet their needs”, including potential financial burdens that could result from the standard quarantine. 14 days, Sizemore said.

But when it comes to cures for those who contract coronavirus, there is no guarantee that these costs will be covered, even for those with insurance. Trump said Wednesday that insurance companies had agreed to waive the costs of the treatment, but the sector has not made that commitment, according to the Associated Press. Nearly 398,000 Nevadan, or about 14% of the state’s population, are uninsured, the sixth highest rate in the nation.

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Another emerging problem for Nevada workers in light of the coronavirus is paid leave.

Last year the Nevada Legislature passed a law requiring employers with 50 or more workers to guarantee them every 0.01923 hours of vacation paid per hour worked and at least 40 hours of vacation paid per year. But the law does not apply to most Nevada businesses, as the “vast majority” have fewer than 50 employees, said Senator Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, a sponsor of the bill.

The measure, which became law on January 1, was written this way to appease the business community, Woodhouse said.

“When we drafted this legislation … none of us predicted that the United States and the world would be affected by coronavirus as we were, and we will have to see what kind of impact it will have on a measure like this ahead,” he said. .

Woodhouse is not aware of any effort by the state to guarantee paid leave for all workers, including those working in small businesses, nor to make paid leave longer than five standard working days. But some employers in the area are taking things in hand during this crisis.

For example, Wynn Las Vegas has introduced emergency disease leave policies on its own initiative, providing all employees with five days of paid sick leave and full pay for the duration of treatment if they contract the coronavirus, said Deanna Pettit- Irestone, executive director of public relations for the company. The Culinary Union is negotiating with all resort companies to ensure fair wages, job security and health benefits during this period, said director of communication Bethany Khan.

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“There are new proposals on the table regarding additional protections for workers in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Khan.

Trump said he plans to offer assistance to hourly workers who don’t have paid leave, although it’s unclear when. Meanwhile, Washington worries that Nevada workers who cannot receive a work permit can go to work sick, potentially infecting others.

“Whose fault is it – the person who came to work, thinking” Do I have to pay the rent, the payment of my car and my electricity bill? “How do you make this choice?” She said.

Working families may be further tense if the Clark County school district cancels schools, as has been done in New York City, Seattle, Ohio and elsewhere. This would leave many parents seeking child care or forced to stay home from work, some without pay, Washington said.

“I’m not really sure how we handle it,” he said. “The purpose of all this is that we have to think about these things in advance, because at the last moment when we have to make these instinctive decisions, this is not the way to live.”

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