Disney to furlough some employees, waive annual pass fees

Darnell Taylor
April 3, 2020

Walt Disney Co said on Thursday it would start furloughs of non-essential United States employees across the company on April 19, a response to the global coronavirus outbreak that has shut down or disrupted its media and theme park businesses.

In a statement Thursday, the company said there was "no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses", and that it was "forced to make the hard decision to take the next step and furlough employees". In its latest good deed, Disney Parks helped out hospital workers and medical professionals by donating protective wear.

The furlough applies to some executive, salaried and non-union hourly employees within the parks, experiences and products division, according to KTLA-TV. It's expected to include most of the workers at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, which remain shuttered indefinitely.

"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 USA with the exception of those whose roles or projects are crucial to maintaining our operations during this closure period, effective April 19", said Disney executives in the email.

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Three union officials who represent Disneyland workers said that the company has yet to inform them of the furlough, but that a call is scheduled for Friday. Disney will pay the cost of employee healthcare premiums.

The move comes after President Donald Trump signed into law last week a $2 trillion stimulus package that will provide extra unemployment insurance benefits for tens of millions of workers who are facing a sudden loss of income because of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

The furlough will begin the following day, Disney said, stressing that affected staff would receive full healthcare benefits for the duration.

Disney has made changes to its annual pass-holder plans amid the COVID-19 crisis. Ever since Disney chose to shutter most of its operations in the wake of the coronavirus, employees were promised that they would retain their benefits and have their pay extended until April 18.

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