With the Disney Parks closed “until further notice,” today The Walt Disney Company announced it plans to furlough some workers beginning April 19th.

What’s happening:

  • In a statement sent this afternoon, it was announced that Disney will begin furloughing Cast Members later this month.
  • Starting April 19th, those with jobs that “aren’t necessary at this time” will be furloughed.
  • Currently this will apply to non-union employees, but Disney will be arranging meetings with unions.
  • Cast Members who are furloughed will remain employees of the company and retain their full healthcare benefits, with Disney covering employee premiums during the furlough period.
  • Additionally, those enrolled in Disney Aspire will continue to have access to that program.
  • Employees will have the option of using any paid time off they’ve accrued to begin the furlough process.
  • After that, the company notes that employees “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.”
  • Previously, Disney had committed to paying employees through April 18th.
  • Unfortunately, it remains unclear when the Disney Parks will be able to resume operations and other areas of Disney’s business have also been severely impacted.
  • News of the furloughs arrive just a few days after Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that senior executives and higher would see temporary pay cuts, with Chapek himself taking a 50% salary reduction and Executive Chairman Bob Iger forgoing 100% of his salary.

What they’re saying:

  • Statement from Disney to employees: “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.”

Full Letter to Disney Parks Experiences and Products Cast Members and Imagineers:

  • The leaders sent out a joint letter to the division’s salaried, executive, and non-union hourly cast:

“As you know, over the past several weeks, COVID-19 has completely reshaped our daily lives as well as our business. A new chapter in the history of our company began when we closed our theme parks, hotels, stores and other operations to help lead the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. This reality has been sobering to all of us. As difficult as this decision was, we know it was the right one to help protect our Cast Members, our Guests and our communities.

True to the core of Disney, it is heartwarming to see many of you continuing to show your compassion, creativity and support for each other over the past few weeks. The acts of kindness and joy we’ve seen our Cast sharing have been inspirational. We appreciate all you do and know that our Cast Members will always be the heart and soul of Disney. This is why some of the choices we must make are extremely difficult.

 At DPEP, as we look ahead, we must make tough decisions about the impacts of the extended closure, and are doing so with two priorities in mind:

  • Caring for our Cast Members: As a company and a leadership team, our focus now is on how best to care for our Cast Members – including keeping you safe, protecting your benefits, and preserving your job for the future.
  • Protecting the future of Disney: As we navigate an extraordinarily challenging business climate, we want to best position our company to weather this crisis.

 With the utmost care and consideration, we are instituting a temporary, short-term furlough for executive, salaried and non-union hourly Cast Members based in the U.S. with the exception of those whose roles or projects are crucial to maintaining our operations during this closure period, effective April 19.

By taking this step now, we are able to allow Cast Members to:

  • Maintain health and insurance benefits coverage, with the company paying both the employer and employee weekly benefit contributions;
  •  If eligible, elect to use some or all of their available paid-time off hours (vacation and floating holidays) at the start of the furlough;
  • Once furloughed, access an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance benefits;
  • Continue progress toward their education goals with the Disney Aspire education program; and
  • Use services provided by LifeCare, Employee Assistance Program and wellness resources.

And most important, this allows us to preserve the jobs of Cast Members who are, and will continue to be, an important part of the Disney family; and provide an easier return to work when our communities recover from the impact of COVID-19.

As part of our commitment to our collective bargaining agreements we will be setting up meetings today with the unions.

This certainly is one of the most difficult choices the company has ever faced. But we are committed to doing everything we can – even when the decisions are unimaginably hard – to help preserve jobs and help ensure that our Cast Members can return to their roles.  

 Early next week, your leaders will be reaching out to you. We know that nothing about this situation is easy and that we’re all facing different challenges in our lives right now. We hope that before long, we will all be able to come together, once again, as a stronger Disney family to create magic for our Guests.

 
 

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