Disney to furlough staffers ‘whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time’

Disney will begin temporarily laying off employees as it comes to grips with the impact of theme park and store closures and delayed movie releases due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mouse House said Thursday evening that it would furlough employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” as of April 19. Furloughed staffers “will receive full health care benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney,” the company said.

A rep for Disney did not provide numbers on how many would be temporarily laid off. More than 75 percent of Disney’s 223,000 employees work for the Parks and Products division.

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 difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees.”

Disney has been hit hard by the pandemic. All of Disney’s twelve theme parks, including Disneyland and Disney World have been closed since March 15, after which the company has committed to paying salaries through April 18.

Additionally, its cruise line has been suspended and many of its biggest films of the year have been delayed, as movie theaters worldwide have closed. The Disney-owned ESPN has also been hit hard as live sporting events have been suspended.

Earlier this week, Disney execs said they were taking a pay cut due to the pandemic. Chief Executive Bob Chapek is taking a 50% cut in salary while Bob Iger, the firm’s executive chairman, will forgo all of his salary.

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