Cineplex is temporarily laying off its employees during closure

Mar 23 2020, 3:44 pm

Cineplex has temporarily laid off its part-time staff as a result of the closure of its theatres and entertainment venues across Canada in response to growing measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The company shuttered all of its locations on March 16, and initially indicated the period of closure will last until April 2, when the feasibility of reopening its locations is set to be considered. But a reopening next week is now certainly impossible, with cases of COVID-19 escalating quickly in the country and increasing government enforcement.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we will continue to take their lead – and that of the health authorities – and we will reopen our theatres and entertainment venues when they tell us it is safe to do so,” Cineplex spokesperson Sarah Van Lange told Daily Hive in an email.

As for employment changes to Cineplex, she says the vast majority of its part-time workers are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI), so the company is providing these ineligible workers with a lump sum similar to what they would have received through EI for two-and-a-half weeks of work.

Van Lange makes it clear these layoffs are intended to be intentional, and the company is looking to connect their workers with positions in the retail industry that need to be filled, specifically grocery stores.

The number of affected employees is not provided, but the latest public filings dating to 2018 indicate the company has over 11,000 part-time employees.

“Our current intention is to rehire all of them when our operations resume, but in the meantime, we are also working with other prominent retailers – many of whom are currently experiencing a considerable labour shortage – to find opportunities for those affected by our temporary measures,” she wrote.

Additionally, instead of performing temporary layoffs, Cineplex’s full-time team — including corporate staff, now largely working from time — has seen a base salary reduction for a limited period of time, with the reductions based on an employee’s level of title.

Van Lange also specifically noted the senior executive team will be taking an 80% reduction in their salary, which amounts to two weeks with no salary and a further two weeks at a reduced salary.

During this turbulent period, the company is also in the process of finalizing its $2.8-billion deal of being acquired by UK-based Cineworld. This deal first announced in December 2019 was originally expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2020.

Van Lange adds that the focus now is “safeguarding the long-term stability of our business and our readiness to return once the crisis has passed.”

Cineplex has over 160 theatre locations across the country, not including its Rec Room and Playdium entertainment venues.

With theatres shuttered around the world, Hollywood blockbusters slated for a theatrical release over the coming weeks and months have already been rescheduled for late in 2020 or 2021.