ORLANDO, Fla. – Disney World has now furloughed thousands of workers as its theme parks remain closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Thousands of Disney World workers furloughed as of Sunday
- Disney will file unemployment claims on behalf of workers
- Gov. Ron DeSantis has said Disney workers would not move to front of line
- RELATED: Florida's Unemployment System: Your Questions Answered
More than 70,000 Disney employees, including 43,000 unionized workers, were furloughed Sunday.
Although they will not be getting paid, workers will still be able to receive their health insurance benefits.
Now those workers will be seeking unemployment benefits in Florida. Over the weekend, Disney confirmed it had reached an agreement with the state to be able to “auto-enroll” its employees into Florida’s unemployment system to help reduce the strain on the already overwhelmed system.
“The high volume of new unemployment insurance claims during the past month has placed a tremendous burden on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s resources,” Disney said in a statement to Spectrum News. “To help alleviate this heavy volume and pressure, we have been working with state officials to make the filing and reimbursement process easier for all Florida residents, including our Cast Members and employees, who are seeking unemployment insurance.”
Disney will file claims on behalf of its employees, according to a notice sent to employees.
“Because we will be submitting claims on behalf of all our employees simultaneously, the DEO systems and resources will remain accessible and at capacity for other Floridians attempting to file their own claims during this unprecedented time,” the notice said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that Disney workers entered into the system this way would not be moved ahead of others who already applied.
“They wouldn’t get any special place in line,” DeSantis said in a news conference last week. “Whoever is applying is going to go through that way.”
Disney employees will still need to provide any additional information that’s needed to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to complete their filing.
“It is important to remember that the company’s filing of a new ‘active’ UI claim on your behalf does not automatically ensure your eligibility for UI benefits or automatically result in a UI benefits payment,” the notice said.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity received more than 1.5 million benefit applications between March 15 and April 19, according to the agency. But so far, only 162,039 claims have been processed.
Technical issues have made it difficult for unemployed Floridians to submit claims or even log onto the website. The state has been working to address those issues
Disney World first announced plans to furlough workers earlier this month. The parks have been closed since mid-March and remain closed until “further notice.”