Proposed legislation would provide payroll support grants to hotels

AAHOA and AHLA have endorsed the Save Hotel Jobs Act

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Democrat Hawaii, left, and Republican Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida are cosponsors of the Save Hotel Jobs Act to provide hotels with another specific set of grants to help them retain their employees.

PROPOSED LEGISLATION WOULD provide hotels with another specific set of grants to help them retain their employees. Major hotel associations are calling for the passage of the Save Hotel Jobs Act.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the loss of 4 million hotel jobs and left the industry with a 20 percent unemployment rate of 20 percent, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Democrat Hawaii, one of the bill’s sponsors along with Republican Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida. While many hotels received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, many are still struggling, Schatz said.

“The pandemic has left millions of hotel employees out of work and many more struggling to get by with less hours. They need help,” Schatz said. “Our bill creates a new grant program that will bring back hotel jobs, pay workers, and help our economy recover.”

The Save Hotel Jobs Act’s grant program would:

  • Provide direct payroll grants to support hotel employees and hotel owner-operators.
  • Require grantees give laid-off hotel workers recall rights to ensure that those who lost their hotel jobs due to the pandemic can go back to work.
  • Recall grant monies from hotel grantees who do not follow the terms of the legislation as well as leveling fines.
  • Provide tax credits to promote worker safety.
  • The Personal Protective Equipment Tax Credit would allow for a 50 percent payroll tax credit for costs purchasing personal protective equipment, technology designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic, increased testing for employees and enhanced cleaning protocols.
  • Ensures that all safety protocols do not negatively impact the level of work for housekeeping workers.

The program could provide up to $20 million in payroll grants, Cecil Staton, AAHOA president and CEO, said in a statement supporting the act.

“America’s hoteliers are staring down an unprecedented labor shortage just as the industry’s economic recovery is starting to gain speed. The Save Hotel Jobs Act provides hotel owners with an option to apply for grants that they can use for payroll expenses,” Staton said. “With occupancy rates well-below normal, many hoteliers continue to struggle to break even. The industry will not recover until 2024. That is why AAHOA and our 20,000 Members across the nation will continue to advocate for and support measures to help hoteliers overcome challenges on the long road to recovery.”

The act would provide a lifeline to hotel workers, said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, in his statement.

“Every day, hotels are closing for good, and hardworking, loyal employees are sadly being let go,” said Rogers. “No industry has been more affected by the pandemic than hospitality. Government-issued travel bans and restrictions, which are meant to slow the spread of the virus, have wiped out 10 years of job growth in our industry. Now, millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are at risk—not just hotels, but the many businesses and workers hotels also support in the community. Congress must step up now to support the hotel industry workforce with targeted relief.”

AHLA is working with labor union UNITE HERE, to promote the bill.

“Hospitality workers have been devastated by the pandemic, with 98 percent of our members laid off at the peak of the shutdowns and more than 70 percent still out of work today. The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide important assistance in bringing back good hospitality jobs and making sure that workers who were laid off during the pandemic are recalled back to work,” said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE.

AAHOA also recently announced its support for the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2021, which would reauthorize EB-5 investor visa program, a source of financing for construction projects such as hotels set to expire in June.