Official data for the first time show the proportion of Macau gaming staff – defined as people involved in gaming and junket activities – doing shift work. The numbers indicate nearly 90 percent are engaged in such work patterns.
The recent downturn in revenue for Macau’s gaming industry has seen little change to the shift work system, local casino labour groups told GGRAsia.
The city’s casinos are open 24 hours per day. Casino managements typically allocate staff to daily operations based on customer demand, which can vary depending on factors including the individual venue, the time of day, the day of the week, and the season.
About 88.8 percent of the 81,300 workers employed in Macau’s gaming sector were working shifts at the end of the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the employment survey data released on Thursday by the city’s Statistics and Census Service. The proportion of employees working shifts in the non-gaming sector stood at 23.9 percent.
The statistics bureau did not include, in the surveys published in previous years, data on those employees working shifts.
Employees in Macau’s gaming sector accounted for 20.7 percent of the city’s total employed population in the three months ended December 31.
“The gaming business has turned a lot more quiet, but in terms of the working hours and other shift arrangements for table dealers, we haven’t seen any big changes,” president of local casino worker group Power of the Macao Gaming Association, Stephen Lao Ka Weng, told GGRAsia.
“We haven’t heard of any lay-offs or reduction in salaries or benefit terms for our member casino workers,” said Mr Lao, currently working as a pit manager in one of the city’s casinos. “Though for table dealers, what has happened is that some of them have been moved to hotel or food and beverage operations, with their remuneration terms unchanged,” he added.
Lei Kuok Keong, vice president of casino labour group Forefront of Macao Gaming, also shared the same view regarding the casino workers’ shift arrangements.
“Even many of the seats at the gaming table are empty, the dealers are still allocated there to sit through a full eight-hour shift,” Mr Lei told us. “More common are the cases that the dealers are encouraged to take unpaid leave,” he added.
According to the employment survey, the median weekly hours worked by employees in the gaming sector reached 46.7 hours per week in the fourth quarter of 2015. The median monthly earnings of these employees stood at MOP19,000 (US$2,378) – the same level as the previous quarter and previous year.
Both Mr Lao and Mr Lei said their groups would like casino employees to be entitled to a special allowance whenever they work on night shifts.
Macau’s Labour Relations Law states that the performance of night work – between 12am and 6am – shall entitle the employee to receive a 20 percent increase in addition to the normal remuneration. The employee however will not be entitled to such increase if he or she was hired specifically to perform a work schedule that might include night hours.
“The night shift allowance is a subject that the government can look at when they talk about amending the Labour Relations Law,” Mr Lao said, noting that the Labour Affairs Bureau had told the association during a meeting that it would study the suggestion.
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Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein