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No details from gaming companies on support for workers with schoolchildren

Updated August 17, 2020 - 2:06 pm

One week away from the beginning of the Clark County School District academic year, Nevada’s six largest gaming companies haven’t made clear what kind of support working parents can expect as their kids begin school online.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., Boyd Gaming Corp., Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Station Casinos did not provide the Review-Journal with details on what kinds of accommodations, if any, they are making for full-time working parents with children in public schools.

“Don’t have anything specific we can share at the moment,” Boyd spokesman David Strow said late last month. He did not respond to a request for comment regarding any updates this week.

Caesars, Wynn, Sands and Station also did not respond to requests for comment.

MGM Resorts said its leaders are “working to understand the needs of those employees and are exploring possible solutions that could be implemented quickly.”

Employers across the state are faced with the same predicament.

“This is not necessarily new because we’ve been having some challenges ever since the schools shut down in March,” said Amy Matthews, of the Nevada Association of Employers. “The hard truth is going to be, unfortunately, that some folks can’t work from home because their jobs wouldn’t allow it. You can’t be a cocktail waitress at home. You can’t do plumbing from home.”

CCSD, the nation’s fifth-largest public school system, said last month that it will start the 2020-21 school year remotely on Aug. 24.

Early this month, the district began distributing Chromebooks and other devices to students along with a family guide, which includes a directory of “Wi-Fi partners” for students who do not have internet access. Partners include various libraries, auto repair stores, coffee shops and several McDonalds.

CCSD had spent the summer planning several different scenarios for the new school year, though district officials recommended online instruction, citing the surge in COVID-19 cases.

And parents seem to be on board.

A Gallup poll conducted last month found that 36 percent of U.S. parents of K-12 children wanted their kids to go back to school in person, down from 56 percent in late May. Meanwhile, 28 percent of parents favored full-time distance learning, up from 7 percent last month.

Paid leave

Federal labor laws were expanded as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, allowing parents to take 10 weeks of paid leave.

Matthews said that the Expanded Federal Medical Leave Act “is only to be used for parents who have to stay home with their children because schools are closed or because only distance learning is provided.”

Parents are paid at two-thirds regular pay for 10 weeks under the law, which expires Dec. 31.

The law could present further challenges for employers, who are already navigating challenges brought on by the economic toll of the pandemic, Matthews said.

“Who’s going to do their job while they’re out? Can we bring someone else in? And that’s a double expense,” she said.

With most child care centers closed at the onset of the pandemic, the association is suggesting that employers consider offering nanny stipends or reimbursements, Matthews said. Other companies are looking into whether on-site day care is feasible.

“The big elephant in the room is people are going to lose their jobs,” Matthews said. “Let’s say you’re a plumber and you get 10 weeks of leave to take care of your kids, but after that you still can’t work from home. What are you supposed to do?”

Flexible work schedules are also the norm, as parents wear multiple hats as caregiver, homework helper and productive employees.

For two-parent households, that could mean taking turns to help kids with their online learning. A single parent who cannot work from home might have fewer choices.

“Both the employers and employees need to be flexible,” Matthews said. “We need to have some compassion and meet in the middle. These banker hours are not going to work for everybody, and we need to remember that when we’re trying to figure out how to make all of this work.”

Matthews said some employers are asking workers who do not have children to see if they could swap shifts with co-workers who do.

Accommodations

Some Las Vegas companies, like Turtle Peak Customer Service, are pushing back plans to return to the office for several months, in part to help parents plan for remote learning in the fall.

Mark Nagle, the company’s chief operating officer, said the transition to working from home has been fairly smooth for the call center workers.

Turtle Peak is engaging with its employees to see whether work schedule adjustments can be made for parents.

“The nice thing is our operation is 24/7, and we have the ability to rearrange roles to be as accommodating as possible,” Nagle said. “While we can’t have everyone working at night, we’re factoring everyone’s individual situation and find where we can make adjustments to their work schedule.”

Over the summer, Nagle and his wife worked together to arrange their schedules around their children, one of whom was in an online summer program.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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