Full-time employees at Universal Orlando will continue being paid — though at 80 percent of their current wage — while the resort stays closed due to the coronavirus pandemic through at least May 31.
The announcement of the extended closures and the pay cut came in a Thursday afternoon post on a website for Universal team members, credited to Universal Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Williams. The resort had already extended closure once before, from the end of March to April 19, but Florida remains under stay-at-home order beyond that date and the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths have not yet peaked in the state or in the Orlando area, making an April reopening impossible.
“We are facing months of closure with no way to accurately predict when we will reopen,” Williams said. “No business, even one as strong as ours, can sustain this without having to make difficult choices.”
Those choices involve pay cuts and furloughs. All employees will be paid at their full wage through April 19. Starting the following day, full-time staff members — including those at the executive, salaried, and hourly level — will be paid at 80 percent of their normal wages. Benefits will not be cut, and those employees will be allowed to use vacation time or paid time off to supplement their reduced income.
A limited number of employees will be asked to “continue working at 100 percent” and will not have their wages cut, Williams said.
For part-time hourly employees, Universal will be instituting furloughs starting May 3.
“We are delaying the furlough so these team members have time to plan – and collect 80 percent of their average hours until then,” Williams said. “Part-time hourly team members who participate in a benefits plan will continue to be enrolled in their plan, with the company paying weekly contributions on their behalf. For our part-time hourly team members, please know that you remain in our thoughts. And while we don’t know precisely when, we look forward to welcoming you back when the time is right.”
The temporary layoffs for part-time Universal workers will come several weeks later than some of their counterparts at Disney World. Non-unionized workers at Disney World who will be paid only through April 19, while unionized employees are still negotiating the exact terms of their own furloughs with the company. The workforce at Universal Orlando is not unionized.
Universal Orlando president Bill Davis followed Williams’ announcement with his own letter to team members.
“I know these times are difficult,” David wrote. “We are all in this together, and we are doing our best to make sure you get the support you need. When the time comes, we will once again be the place where families and friends will come for adventure, thrills, laughs, and the woah moments we have always been known for. I am hopeful that can happen sooner rather than later.”
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