Encore Boston Harbor said Monday it would lay off 385 people who have been on furlough for months. The company concluded it is unlikely their jobs will return this year because of safety measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the casino.
The affected workers will lose their company benefits starting Sept. 1, though Encore said they could regain their seniority on the job if they are rehired within 90 days. The Everett resort has 2,700 employees working now, and another 915 remain on furlough following the layoff.
“With continued efforts from the state to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Encore Boston Harbor continues to operate with a significantly reduced capacity in all parts of our resort,” Encore leadership said in a statement. “As we take a look at our business during these extraordinary conditions, we do not believe that all Encore Boston Harbor jobs will return in 2020.”
The move is the latest evidence of the damage that the pandemic has done to the workforce of the casino industry, which spent millions of dollars hiring and training thousands of people in Massachusetts in recent years. Casinos were closed from March into July, and now are operating with significant restrictions on how many people they can host and which services they can offer.
Encore’s decision follows a Friday announcement by MGM Resorts, owner of the MGM Springfield casino, that 1,000 people who had been laid off or furloughed for months will be officially separated from the company this week. Those workers will retain their benefits through September. About 800 people now work at the Springfield casino.
Encore spokesman Eric Kraus said Monday that the people affected by the layoffs in Everett work in jobs across the resort. But they are concentrated in areas that are unlikely to return in the foreseeable future, such as the casino’s oyster bar and its high-end buffet.
Encore, owned by Wynn Resorts, paid all of its employees their full wages and tips for more than two months of its closure. It began to furlough people in June. When it reopened a month later, Encore quickly brought back thousands of people. But the remaining jobs are proving harder to restore, the resort said.
“We make extensive efforts when we hire an employee into the Encore family and into the Wynn family, and we hate to have to take this action,” Kraus said. “If there is a job opportunity that exists, we try to find a home for all of these people.”