Furloughs that Walt Disney announced last week in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic have begun to cycle through the film studios, we have learned.
Disney, hammered by a complete loss of revenue from its shuttered theme parks and with film and TV production stalled, said it would furlough all staff whose work was not immediately necessary starting on April 19. The furloughs started in the parks division but as Deadline reported will be working through the rest of the conglom.
At the studio, we have learned that distribution will be first and hardest hit.
Disney’s statement from April 2 (see below) didn’t specify the number of employees to be furloughed. The conglomerate had 223,000 employees worldwide as of its fiscal year-end in September.
It had committed to providing full pay and benefits through April 18. Disney said those impacted by the furlough process will remain Disney employees throughout the duration of the unspecified furlough period and receive full healthcare benefits, with Disney picking up the cost of employee and company premiums.
An internal memo sent specifically to employees of Parks, Experiences and Products (also below) said the furlough would apply to “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.”
Here is Disney’s full statement today:
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.
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