Disney increases number of layoffs to 32,000 workers as it grapples with pandemic

The Walt Disney Company has increased the number of employees it will layoff as it continues to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thanksgiving Eve, the company revealed around 32,000 workers would lose their jobs in the first half of the 2021 fiscal year. This figure includes 28,000 staffers Disney said in September it would lay off from its parks division.

Disney's parks around the world have been crippled by the pandemic.
Disney’s parks around the world have been crippled by the pandemic. Credit:AP

“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,” Disney said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The additional layoffs come after Disney executives slammed California officials earlier this month for not allowing Disneyland to reopen, perhaps for months. The California park has been closed since March.


Disney reported a nearly $US600 million ($815 million) loss for its fourth quarter.

Disney’s parks, products and experiences segment lost $US1.1 billion in the quarter, as Disneyland remains closed and other parks operate below capacity. The company’s cruise ship operations, which are part of the segment, remain shut down.

“It’s been a year unlike any other in our lifetimes, and certainly in the history of the Walt Disney Co.,” CEO Bob Chapek said earlier this month.

In the SEC filing, Disney said as of October 3, “approximately 37,000 employees who are not scheduled for employment termination were on furlough as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our businesses.”

Florida’s Disney World reopened in July, but Disneyland has yet to reopen.

“As some of our businesses have reopened, we have incurred additional costs to address government regulations and the safety of our employees, talent and guests,” the company said in the filing. “The reopening or closure of our businesses is dependent on applicable government requirements, which vary by location, are subject to ongoing changes, which could result from increasing COVID-19 cases.”

The company says it employed around 203,000 people as of October 3, with its global workforce comprised of around 80 per cent full-time workers and 20 per cent part-time employees. Around 155,000 employees work in the parks, experiences and products segment.

These cutbacks could affect guests, experts told USA TODAY.

“As hard as they try to make those cutbacks only affect behind-the-scenes issues, it eventually comes to the guest,” Dennis Speigel, founder and CEO of International Theme Park Services, said in September. “And by that, I mean services and experience.”

USA Today

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