JCPenney will intends to furlough the majorityof its employees throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced on Tuesday. It joins several other national retail chains in taking this measure to cut costs but hold onto employees throughout the crisis. The company said it is "optimistic" that it will "weather this pandemic."
JCPenney announced its plans to temporarily close many stores and furlough most of its employees on Tuesday. In a statement given to ABC News, the company's CEO Jill Soltau said: "These are difficult days all across the country and the globe. At JCPenney, we are making tough, prudent decisions to protect both the safety of our associates and the future of our Company. We remain optimistic about JCPenney's ability to weather this pandemic."
"We also believe these short-term solutions will have a long-term benefit for our associates, customers, and key stakeholders as we look forward to the day that we reopen our doors," she concluded.
JCPenney employees who are currently enrolled in health benefits through the company will continue to receive coverage, the company says. It also noted that "the company plans to cover 100 percent of employee-paid premiums for the duration of the furlough."
The announcement follows similar moves from Macy's Inc., Gap Inc. and other nationwide retailers. It all stems from the COVID-19 outbreak which is now hitting the U.S. harder than anywhere else in the globe.
Furloughed employees typically do not work any hours and do not receive any pay, but remain technically employed by their company. This means that they continue to collect some benefits, such as healthcare coverage, and also do not need to be re-hired when the crisis is over.
However, in some cases being furloughed prevents workers from collecting unemployment, cutting off one source of cash for people during the pandemic. In addition, benefits such as retirement savings are often not included in furloughs.
Other companies are simply trying to ramp up cleaning efforts and hygiene practices to protect employees. At Walmart, all associates must have their temperature taken upon arriving, according to ABC News. If it is 100 degrees or above, they will be asked to go home and not return until they are fever-free for at least three days.
Like other companies, Walmart also promised masks and gloves to employees "as supplies permit," noting that the whole nation is dealing with a shortage of PPE at the moment.
For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.