The Nevada State Legislature passed a law that gives hospitality and travel industry workers the right to return to their jobs. Senate Bill 386, dubbed the “Right to Return” bill, awaits Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature to become law.

The bill gives workers who were laid off after March 12, 2020, for economic reasons due to the pandemic the ability to return to their jobs starting July 1, 2021, through August 21, 2022. The Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which lobbied heavily for the bill, says that thousands of union and non-union hospitality, airport, casino, travel, and stadium workers (including third-party operators at hotels and casinos such as retail shops, restaurants, bars, and parking facilities) are protected under the legislation.

“At the height of the pandemic, 98 percent of culinary union members were laid off and currently only 50 percent are back to work,” says Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer for the culinary union. “While a majority of unionized workers already have extended recall protections in their contracts, a majority of workers protected by this new SB386 law are not unionized.”

Employers with more than 30 employees must offer laid-off employees job openings for the same or similar positions as the employee worked previously under the new law. Workers who receive job offers have 24 hours to accept or decline and must be available to work within five days of receiving an offer.

Workers may turn down up to three job offers, with at least three weeks between each, if the job offer is for the same or a similar position and has similar hours to the worker’s previous job. Once an employee turns down three offers, or if the worker is not reachable by email, mail, phone call, or text message for each of the three offers, an employer is no longer obligated to offer a job.

Employers must provide an employee with a written explanation within 30 days of the decision if they decline to recall a laid-off employee. Notices must be available in English, Spanish, or any language that at least 10 percent or more of the employees speak.

Laid off employees may enforce their rights through a complaint to the Labor Commissioner or by suing in court.

• Culinary Union Fights for the Right for Workers to Return to Their Jobs With a New State Senate Bill [ELV]

• The Culinary Union Continues to Negotiate the Proposed Right to Return Bill in the State Senate [ELV]

• While the Culinary Union Delivers Nevada to Biden, It Still Has Tough Work Ahead on Its Agenda [ELV]

  • Workers in leisure, hospitality, and retail have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic.
  • A New York Fed analysis finds only 4% of workers will be rehired by currently closed small businesses.
  • And just 3% of the service businesses currently closed are likely to reopen.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Throughout the pandemic, service workers have had it tough. The ones that didn’t have to contend with massive layoffs have had to safely navigate customer-facing roles, while their industry has been radically disrupted.

And evidence is showing that the service workers who were laid off stand a slim chance of getting their old jobs back.

A new analysis from the New York

Federal Reserve
‘s Liberty Street Economics looks at data from about 100,000 leisure, retail, and hospitality businesses — mostly small ones — and delves into the ones that have remained closed.

Of businesses active before the pandemic, 35% remain closed. The longer a business stays shuttered, the more likely it is it will never reopen, according to the analysis: For every extra week a business stays closed, the probability of reopening drops by 2%. Most of those businesses have been closed since the pandemic first hit.

Bad news for workers

For people working at those currently shuttered businesses, continued closures may bring bad employment news. The analysis found that just about 4% of workers laid off from those businesses will be rehired by them. 

The longer the closure, the lower the chance of rehiring: For every extra week they remain shuttered, the number of workers rehired for reopening drops by 5%. Of course, that all hinges on if their employers do end up reopening. The New York Fed anticipates that just 3% of the closed businesses will reopen, and those that do will hire back 35% of their workers over the course of four weeks.

Service workers have been hard hit throughout the pandemic

To be sure, employment in leisure, hospitality, and retail has seen a major rebound as the economy has reopened.

In March, nonfarm payrolls added 916,000 jobs, and service jobs accounted for a third of those gains. Small businesses are also increasingly reopening, especially as vaccinations around the country ramp up and restrictions are lifted. 

One hindrance is the so-called labor shortage, where employers are having trouble filling jobs. That could be for a few reasons, according to Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey, including COVID-19 health concerns and inability to access affordable childcare. A study from advocacy group One Fair Wage found that of the workers who never left service jobs, female workers experienced more harassment and lower tips during the pandemic. 

A February McKinsey report separately found that food service jobs are in general decline over the long term, and over half of workers in low-wage jobs will have to find higher-paying positions post-pandemic.

“Last year, we started a relief fund for service workers; 240,000 workers applied for relief,” Saru Jayaraman, the president of One Fair Wage, previously told Insider. “And I can’t tell

After the pandemic brought thousands of layoffs to Nevada’s hospitality industry and devastated the state’s economy, lawmakers are considering a “Right to Return” bill that would give casino, hospitality, stadium and travel-related workers in Nevada the right to return to their former jobs.

The bill, SB386, garnered emotional support testimony Wednesday from laid-off workers looking to return to work and the backing of labor unions, while businesses, including some Las Vegas casinos, opposed the measure, arguing that it would result in inappropriate costs and litigation.

“I should not be replaced or abandoned. I have spent my life working for this company. I should not have to start my career over,” Mario Sandoval, a food worker and Culinary Union member of 39 years who lost his job amid the pandemic, said during a hearing for the bill. “I could have hope if I was guaranteed my job back, something that company has taken away from us.”

With events canceled, travel restrictions in effect and casinos shut down for several weeks during the pandemic, the hospitality industry was forced to scale back immensely over the past year. Data from the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation shows that from March to May last year, the state’s hospitality industry lost nearly 200,000 jobs.

Sandoval’s sentiment was echoed by other hospitality workers, including Cristina Lopez, who was laid off in May at her job at Station Casinos’ Texas Station after 10 years with the company.

“This crisis is not our fault. It took us all by surprise,” Lopez said. “I have applied at 15 different jobs, but I am told that I am overqualified to work at fast-food restaurants or that I don’t have enough experience for another job. The only hope I have is for my job to come back to the way it was.”

The bill applies to workers in the casino, hospitality, stadium and travel-related economic sectors who were laid off after March 12, 2020 and who were employed for at least six months in the year prior to the governor’s first COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) presented the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee bill, invoking her own parents, who were members of the Culinary Union.

“Growing up, I was the very proud daughter of a waitress and a bartender, both of whom are members of Culinary Union 226,” she said during the hearing. “Because I grew up in a family who relied on exactly the type of jobs that have been so hard hit by this pandemic, I can only imagine what these workers and their families have been through the past year.”

The bill would require employers to offer a laid-off employee each job that the employee is qualified for (e.g. someone who conducted cleaning work for a business could be eligible for other jobs associated with maintaining COVID-19 health and safety protocols). Employers also would be required to give employees who are not hired back an explanation of why they were not