Hard Rock paying staff cash bonuses to ‘show appreciation’ amid pandemic

Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. is handing out cash bonuses to its workers in several U.S. states to thank them for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s important not to forget the job they’re doing during these difficult times. These are clearly challenging times and this is a way of showing our appreciation,” says Jim Allen, chair and chief executive officer of the global casino, entertainment and hospitality company.

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The CEO wouldn’t say precisely which employees will be getting bonuses outside of Atlantic City and Florida, nor did he indicate what percentage of the company’s worldwide workforce is receiving the payments. In Atlantic City, the bonuses will exceed US$1 million, split among 2,184 workers: 1,822 hourly workers will get $250 apiece, while 197 supervisors or salaried workers each will get $500 and 165 managers will get $1,000 each.

“I’m delighted,” says Simei Yu, a server at a restaurant at the Hard Rock who has been with the company since the casino opened in 2018. “We take a lot of precautions. It definitely takes more time: more handwashing, more sanitization of everything. But we do it.”

Hard Rock also gave out bonuses last January totalling $2 million to nearly 2,900 workers in Atlantic City, before the pandemic took hold. Those payments were a reward for helping the company come within 10 per cent of meeting its business targets for the year. In 2020, the company didn’t come close to meetings those targets. Atlantic City’s casinos were closed for three-and-a-half months and continue to operate at only 25 per cent of capacity under state-imposed restrictions.

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But in the months it was able to operate, Hard Rock did well, says Joe Lupo, the company’s Atlantic City president. Its combined table games and slot machine revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 was up 12.5 per cent to $83.3 million. The other eight Atlantic City casinos were collectively down nearly 30 per cent in this category.

Four casino companies operating in the Chinese enclave of Macao also announced employee bonuses last month, including SJM Holdings Ltd., MGM China Holdings Ltd., Wynn Macau and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.

Companies in a wide range of other industries also gave out bonuses or raises last year to thank employees for continuing to work during the pandemic. They include Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., Best Buy Co., Target Corp., The Home Depot Inc., Hormel Foods Corp. and The J.M. Smucker Co.

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