The Walt Disney Co. said it would hand $1,000 bonuses to more than 125,000 employees and invest $50 million in a new education program designed to cover tuition costs for hourly employees.
Taken together, these two initiatives represent an investment of $175 million in the fiscal year.
“I am proud we are directing approximately $125 million to our cast members and employees across the country and making higher education more accessible with the launch of this new program,” Chief Executive Bob Iger said in a statement. “I have always believed that education is the key to opportunity; it opens doors and creates new possibilities. Matched with the $1,000 cash bonus, these initiatives will have both an immediate and long-term positive impact.”
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Iger did not say whether the generous employee benefit was connected with the recently enacted tax overhaul, as did Comcast and AT&T in announcing their bonus programs.
Full and part-time U.S. employees on the payroll since January 1 will be paid a one-time $1,000 cash bonus, to be received in two installments — the first in March and the second in September. In keeping with applicable federal law, the company will work with union representatives regarding potential distribution plans for employees currently working under existing union contracts.
The company also is launching an education initiative aimed at its hourly U.S. workforce, with some 88,000 workers eligible. With this new plan, participants can pursue qualifying higher education or vocational training, including courses unrelated to their current responsibilities at Disney.
By creating new opportunities for those who wish to continue their education, employees can advance in their current roles or support their long-term career aspirations. After the initial investment of $50 million, Disney will provide up to $25 million in annual funding going forward.
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