Disney Employees Face More Layoffs, Furloughs as Park Losses Mount

December 3, 2020 Updated: December 3, 2020

The Walt Disney Company has announced more employee layoffs and furloughs in response to mounting losses from the company’s closed theme parks.

Disney announced an additional 4,000 employee layoffs in the company’s recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, bringing the total number to 32,000.

The terminations are planned for the first half of the company’s 2021 fiscal year. The company didn’t indicate how many of these workers were employed at Disney’s operations in Orange County, California.

The Disneyland theme park in Anaheim has remained closed since March due to state regulations during the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

“Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the Company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force,” the filing states.

The first 28,000 workers to be laid off began receiving notices in October.

In addition, around 1,800 more Disneyland employees will be furloughed, according to a recent notice required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The newly furloughed employees include park maintenance workers such as painters, landscapers, and custodians, as well as some in the entertainment sector.

Around 37,000 employees had already been furloughed as of Oct. 3, the company reported in the Nov. 25 SEC filing. Unlike the layoffs, these employees had not been terminated and were expected to return at some point in the future.

California’s WARN Act requires employers to give advance notice to employees affected by mass layoffs or closures. However, the mandate of 60 days notice was temporarily suspended by Gov. Gavin Newsom in March through an executive order “to permit employers to act quickly in order to mitigate or prevent the spread of coronavirus,” according to the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD).

Some of the Disney employees who were slated to be laid off have also lost funding for their education from the Disney Aspire program. The program had promised to pay 100 percent of employees’ tuition costs at eligible schools, with fees and books costs also reimbursable.

The Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland Resort have also canceled all reservations through the end of 2020. However, the company’s Vacation Club Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are expected to reopen for members only on Dec. 6.

Disney reported in November that the company’s total revenue in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year—which ended on Oct. 3—was down 23 percent from last year, adding that the pandemic has most heavily affected its theme parks and product sales.

“The most significant impact of COVID-19 on fiscal 2020 operating results was an estimated detriment of approximately $6.9 billion on operating income at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment due to revenue lost as a result of the closures or reduced operating capacities,” the company reported.

Other impacted business areas of the company include theatrical releases, advertising sales, live sports programming, and film/television production.

Disney said that in the future, the company might consider reducing contributions to its pension and post-retirement medical plans, reducing film and television investment, or implementing additional furloughs and layoffs.

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