Disney is sending letters to its cast members this afternoon informing them that the company will be furloughing many employees later this month.
The move comes following the Disney theme parks' announcement that they will remain closed until further notice. Disney is accepting reservations for future hotel visits at its resorts, but only for arrivals starting June 1, providing an indication that Disney is planning for the parks' temporary closure to continue through this month and next.
Disney had been paying its hourly cast and salaried cast members during the closure and previously announced that it would continue to pay them through April 18. The furlough announced today applies to executive, salaried and non-union hourly Cast Members based in the United States, "with the exception of those whose roles or projects are crucial to maintaining our operations during this closure period."
The furlough takes effect on April 19. It does not apply to union cast members covered by collective bargaining agreements, but the company said that it will set up meetings with union leaders.
Disney will continue to cover health insurance for its cast members, paying both the employer and employee contributions. Furloughed cast members will be eligible to file for unemployment, including the $600 a week in additional compensation through the new federal stimulus act. Disney Aspire benefits will not be affected by the furlough and will remain available to cast members using that educational benefit.
Since this is a furlough and not a dismissal, Disney's intent is that it will put its cast members back on the payroll when the parks do reopen.
A spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company issued this statement:
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on our world with untold suffering and loss, and has required all of us to make sacrifices. Over the last few weeks, mandatory decrees from government officials have shut down a majority of our businesses. Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we've committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation. However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we're forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren't necessary at this time. The furlough process will begin on April 19, and all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period. They will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney, and those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program. Additionally, employees with available paid time off can elect to use some or all of it at the start of the furlough period and, once furloughed, they are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.Tweet
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