In an official statement by Disney, it has been revealed that the company plans to begin to furlough its non-union park employees as of April 19 in the wake of the recent pandemic.
During the furlough, employees will continue to receive full health-care benefits, with Disney paying the cost of employee and company premiums. Disney employees will also be able to continue with Disney Aspire education programs, the company’s program which pays towards Cast Member’s tuition at Universities and other educational institutions.
Below is the official statement sent to Inside the Magic:
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.
“This reality has been sobering to all of us,” executives from Disney Parks, Experiences and Products wrote in a letter to staff Thursday. “As difficult as this decision was, we know it was the right one to help protect our cast members, our guests and our communities.”
The Disney Parks, Experiences and Product segment has around 177,000 Cast Members. Of this sum, it is not known how many will be affected by the company’s announcement today.
According to the letter sent to Cast Members and obtained by Inside the Magic explaining the furlough, employees will be eligible for up to $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, in addition to state unemployment insurance. It also states if eligible, Cast Members can elect to use some or all of their available paid time-off hours (vacation and floating holidays) at the start of the furlough.
So far this furlough only impacts non-unionized Cast Members with Disney stating “As part of our commitment to our collective bargaining agreements we will be setting up meetings today with the unions.”
A few final sentiments found in the letter reads: “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…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.”
The company recently announced the extension of the temporary closure of its theme parks last week, which was when the company revealed they would continue paying employees until April 18. In this announcement, the company did not give a specified date of which operations would begin again at the parks. Instead, the company stated the temporary closure would remain “until further notice.”
This story is developing, please continue to revisit this page as we receive updates.