Trump defends furlough of staff at his Mar-a-Lago club and other resorts: 'They can't just stand and do nothing'
Trump's businesses are barred from receiving emergency loans and other benefits from the federal government's economic relief bill
President Donald Trump has defended his company's decision to furlough hundreds of employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You can’t have many hundreds of employees standing around doing nothing,” Trump said on April 21 during the daily coronavirus briefing in the White House. "There’s no customer. You’re not allowed to have a customer," he added, noting how social distancing guidelines have closed a number of clubs, hotels, and even golf courses, Time magazine reports.
This comes after the president's private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida revealed earlier this week it has temporarily furloughed 153 workers.
That said, Mar-a-Lago is not the only Trump resort to take the decision. The Trump National Doral Miami resort has also temporarily laid off 560 workers.
Trump's businesses are barred from receiving emergency loans and other benefits from the federal government's economic relief bill, as are businesses with ties to other top government officials and members of Congress and their immediate families. The bill is designed to help businesses retain workers during the pandemic.
At the Mar-a-Lago Club, which is now the president's new primary residence, 153 people are set to be furloughed, according to a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) letter from Janine Gill, director of human resources at the Mar-a-Lago Club, to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, and copied to Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio.
The letter, dated March 27, says the club began halting its operations “due to the unforeseen business circumstances caused by the natural disaster and spread of the novel coronavirus, the mandated closures under Palm Beach County’s Declaration of Emergency, as well as recommendations regarding public gatherings ... the club has been forced to place its non-essential personnel on temporary furlough status.”
The employees set to be furloughed include both indoor and outdoor staff, ranging from dishwashers to tennis professionals to executive assistants, per the report.
And while both furloughs are temporary, it's unclear when the workers will be called back.
Florida's economy is heavily reliant on its tourism industry, and the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the same by forcing the closure of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and recreational facilities just weeks before the highly profitable spring vacation season.
On March 19, the Mar-a-Lago Club notified its members of a partial closure owing to health concerns related to the outbreak. The notice, obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News, said the club would cease offering a la carte dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the main “house" and would stop other services like spa and aerobics classes temporarily. Furthermore, it also said guest rooms would no longer be available for reservations.
On March 20, the following day, the club informed all its members that "due to Governor DeSantis’ recent executive orders, we, unfortunately, must suspend all Beach Club and tennis operations.”
Mar-a-Lago has become Trump's weekend home after he shifted base from New York, and the president is known to spend his time there mixing work, business, and pleasure in the company of its members.
With governments across the world enforcing lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 179,694 lives worldwide according to John Hopkins University, work from home has become the rule of the day as the global economy takes a downturn toward recession.
But not all are as fortunate to avail the opportunity to work from the safety of their homes. In fact, in the US, that is not an option at all for two-thirds of workers.
A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that working remotely is associated with jobs that are high-paying but for sectors like hospitality and agriculture, it is not a viable choice and they are set to take a big hit.
The NBER report showed that only 37 out of 100 American jobs can be done remotely.