ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Disney has announced the company will furlough employees whose jobs are not necessary at this time amid the spread of the coronavirus.
“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 said in a statement.
The company said employees have received full pay and benefits since the theme parks have closed.
Employees will be paid through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of pay, according to the company.
“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,“ Disney said in a statement.
The furlough process will start on April 19.
The president of one of the unions representing Disney workers in Orlando said the furlough announcement only applies to non-union workers.
“There is nothing normal about any of this. Not at all," said Matt Hollis, president of the Service Trades Council Union
He says the union represents more than 42,000 Disney World workers in the Orlando area, including housekeepers, monorail crews, captains, bus drivers, the parking attendants, lifeguards and more.4
“Our collective bargaining agreement covers a certain number of elements as it relates to furloughs,” he said. “We will certainly be seeking to enforce those. If there’s enhancements that we can get, given the extremely unique situation that we find ourselves in, we will be pressing to enhance those as well.”
According to Disney’s announcement, any impacted worker will remain a Disney employee through the duration of the furlough period and receive full healthcare benefits.
Any worker in the Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program, according to the company statement.
“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,” Disney said in a statement.
The Disney World theme parks in Orlando have been closed since March 15.