As speculated here for quite some time, Disney has just confirmed that following April 18th, hourly and salaried employees in non-essential roles, or otherwise being scheduled for work, will be furloughed. 

NOTE: This article was updated 4/9/20 with information on a furlough agreement for union employees. 

Some Benefits Will Be Maintained

It is important to note that those employees who currently have medical plans through the company will keep those plans. The same is true for the Disney Aspire program, which pays for employees to attend college while employed with the company. Those participants will remain in Aspire while they are furloughed so they may continue their educations! 

Disney Furloughs, UPDATED: Disney Reaches Furlough Agreement with Unions

UPDATE (4/9/20) – Union Agreement Reached

When Disney announced furloughs last week, the one question unanswered was how they would handle union employees. The company has been in negotiations with the various unions since that time and today reached agreement with them. 

Disney Furloughs, UPDATED: Disney Reaches Furlough Agreement with Unions
Full Agreement Attached – HERE

The particulars regarding the different classes of employment and how they are being handled are technical. However, in short, the Union workers will be treated much like the hourly and salaried employees. 

The key provisions of the agreement that will be of interest to you, the reader, are: 

  • The union and Disney agree that non-essential workers will be furloughed starting April 19th until further notice. 
  • Furloughed union workers who currently have health benefits will maintain them and Disney will continue to pay for medical benefits.  
  • Any vacation previously booked during the furlough period will be canceled. 
  • Furloughed employees will be called back to work, when the time comes, based upon seniority. 

(Originally Posted 4/2/2020): Which Parts of the Disney Company are Impacted

This is a company-wide decision and will impact workers from the parks and resorts, Disney Stores, call centers, creative, warehouses, travel, Imagineering, etc. 

It is noted that in addition to state unemployment benefits, these workers should also be eligible for the supplemental unemployment benefits just approved by the federal government. This helps bring wages for most employees close to what they are currently making with Disney. 

“Furlough,” in this case, means that the employees are not being fired, will retain some benefits, and may be called back to work by Disney at any time.  

(Originally Updated 4/2/2020) UPDATES TO THIS DEVELOPING STORY: 

A spokesperson from the company said: 

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.

THIS JUST IN – copied below is a letter sent to Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (DPEP) Executives, Salaried and Non-Union Hourly Cast:

Dear Cast Members and Imagineers:

As you know, over the past several weeks, COVID-19 has completely reshaped our daily lives as well as our business. A new chapter in the history of our company began when we closed our theme parks, hotels, stores and other operations to help lead the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. This reality has been sobering to all of us. As difficult as this decision was, we know it was the right one to help protect our Cast Members, our Guests and our communities.

True to the core of Disney, it is heartwarming to see many of you continuing to show your compassion, creativity and support for each other over the past few weeks. The acts of kindness and joy we’ve seen our Cast sharing have been inspirational. We appreciate all you do and know that our Cast Members will always be the heart and soul of Disney. This is why some of the choices we must make are extremely difficult. 

At DPEP, as we look ahead, we must make tough decisions about the impacts of the extended closure, and are doing so with two priorities in mind:

Caring for our Cast Members: As a company and a leadership team, our focus now is on how best to care for our Cast Members – including keeping you safe, protecting your benefits, and preserving your job for the future.

Protecting the future of Disney: As we navigate an extraordinarily challenging business climate, we want to best position our company to weather this crisis.

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 U.S. with the exception of those whose roles or projects are crucial to maintaining our operations during this closure period, effective April 19.

By taking this step now, we are able to allow Cast Members to:

      • Maintain health and insurance benefits coverage, with the company paying both the employer and employee weekly benefit contributions;
      • If eligible, elect to use some or all of their available paid-time off hours (vacation and floating holidays) at the start of the furlough;
      • Once furloughed, access an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance benefits;
      • Continue progress toward their education goals with the Disney Aspire education program; and
      • Use services provided by LifeCare, Employee Assistance Program and wellness resources.

And most important, this allows us to preserve the jobs of Cast Members who are, and will continue to be, an important part of the Disney family; and provide an easier return to work when our communities recover from the impact of COVID-19.

As part of our commitment to our collective bargaining agreements we will be setting up meetings today with the unions.

This certainly is one of the most difficult choices the company has ever faced. But we are committed to doing everything we can – even when the decisions are unimaginably hard – to help preserve jobs and help ensure that our Cast Members can return to their roles.  

Early next week, your leaders will be reaching out to you. We know that nothing about this situation is easy and that we’re all facing different challenges in our lives right now. We hope that before long, we will all be able to come together, once again, as a stronger Disney family to create magic for our Guests.

The letter was signed collectively by Rebecca Campbell, Michael Colglazier, Josh D’Amaro, Kareem Daniel, Jill Estorino, Tami Garcia, Margaret Giacalone, Alannah Hall-Smith, George A. Kalogridis, Kevin Lansberry, Tilak Mandadi, Ken Potrock, Jeff Vahle & Bob Weis. 

The MiceTube Crew Discusses the News

Dusty, Chloé and Logan discuss Disney furloughs and annual pass changes. It’s not all bad news, we’ll leave you with some uplifting thoughts and advice: 

Let’s Hear From You

A news post like this doesn’t really call for commentary from us. But I’d like to leave some personal thoughts anyway. The Disney Company is in a nearly impossible situation. Almost the entire revenue stream for the Company dried up overnight. A publically traded company would normally just start massive layoffs at that point. But that didn’t happen here.

At first, Disney promised to pay everyone through March, while they figured out the situation and consulted with experts. Then they extended pay through mid-April. That’s really above and beyond what most expected Disney to do. But then the executives took a major pay cut on March 30th, before announcing furloughs (with some remaining benefits) for their employees today. Disney really has tried to thread the needle between what is best for their employees and for the continued survival of the company itself. 

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all who have suffered through this crisis. But we’d also like to share our deepest appreciation that Disney didn’t just blindly lay-off tens of thousands of employees without notice or regard. They have taken the high road in this crisis and created a model that other companies are being compared to. That is a silver lining to the dark times we are all dealing with. 

What are your thoughts folks? 

For more information about Disney park closures, executive pay cuts, passholder payment changes, and more, please visit our special resource page HERE 

Disney Furloughs, UPDATED: Disney Reaches Furlough Agreement with Unions
Coverage of park closures and related news HERE

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Dusty Sage
Dusty is the founder and CEO of When he's not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty is involved in multiple Disney related projects and charities. He helped save and restore the charming Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago, launched the Dick Van Dyke Foundation, and is the curator of Walt Disney's historic 1930's estate in Hollywood. If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]