Walt Disney World reaches agreement with unions on back-to-work plan

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The measures include mandatory masks for workers and guests and social distancing practices. The agreement also calls for plastic barriers and touchless transactions at cash registers, temperature checks for guests, and other measures. Employees who contract COVID-19 will receive paid time off to quarantine.

Read more from CNBC.

Given that the union made the guest mask point in the statement can we assume that was not Disney’s preference?

Jeff's avatar

I don't know if you could imply that or not. The real meat of this is the paid sick time, I think, but even that you would expect that most rational hospitality businesses realize that's the only way you keep sick employees from coming in anyway.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Is it sick pay specific to Covid? That is how it reads. Better than nothing I suppose, but if I am sick and have a fever and/or cough but it is not Covid, it seems like Disney would not want me working so why wouldn’t I get paid for that?

At my non theme park job in Florida they gave us an 80 hour COVID-19 sick bank that is going to be available for the rest of the calendar year. It gives us 80 hours of leave for any sort of COVID-19 related absence without having to dip into our regular PTO or Floating banks should we get ill or become knowingly exposed and need to self isolate. It could be something like that.

99er's avatar

^That is essentially what is going on. On top of the normal amount of sick time that is earned, they will receive another bank strictly related to COVID so if you were to contract COVID and require two weeks off for quarantine, you will still have normal sick time you can use should you come down with something later in the year.


Shades, I can not speak to Disney's ethics but I have worked for several companies in my younger years that set implicit and explicit expectations and policies that encouraged an employee to work while sick and I don't think they were the exception. It is very difficult for a person to trace back exactly where they were infected by some disease.

A lot of times in my work experience it has to do with the manager/supervisor you have to make the phone call to. Sometimes some of them would give you such a hard time or lay on such a feeling of guilt, it was easier to just come in.

Full time but hourly job I had there were no paid sick days but for every full 40 week you worked 1/50th of a weeks pay was put in escrow that was awarded at the end of the year. So you if you were sick you didn't get the money now to pay your rent, but later as a bonus. Never liked that system.

That sounds awful. All jobs I have had as an adult have had fair sick leave policies that encouraged employees to use it when they needed it. I've had a few direct supervisors over the years that would make you feel guilty with their tone and defaulted to assuming you were faking it even if it was coming out both ends. But when I see some of the horrid sick leave policies too many employers have, it proves to me how much we still aren't doing right in this country.

At my (essential) job, I get paid sick time, but my employer also gave us a bunch of extra hours of sick time for COVID-related absence (not necessarily even illness; even things like child care emergencies) in addition to our usual PTO. The trick here is that while we can use it in half-day increments pretty much for any reason we like, the Company attached a nice carrot: they will buy that time back from us at the end of the year. So there is no penalty for using it, but if you don't use it, there is a little bit of a bonus.

I thought that was a pretty smart thing to do.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

A year or so ago we merged our vacation and sick banks into a PTO bank. While we earn a bit less per pay period, we have the ability to use significantly more without having to call out sick or justify it. Someone who (pre-COVID) took the usual 3-4 sick days a year has a significant number of extra hours a year they can take as vacation now. It can be redeemed in half hours, so if you need to cut out just a bit early early and you are hourly (and still want the full day of pay) you don't have to burn a half day.

Those who were opposed didn't like the fact that anyone can just call out whenever they'd like now without it having to be "calling out sick". You can just call in the morning, say you are taking PTO, and that's that. What I've observed is that people are out less because we get enough time where you don't feel like you need to play hooky and use sick hours because you have so many that will never get used each year. If you know you need the day you just put in for it ahead of time rather than calling out to use the sick hours and not having to burn vacation hours. It's been a huge win for us.

Jeff's avatar

There's a weird American culture thing about work that seems to imply that you aren't doing enough if you don't suffer a little and suck it up, which is the first problem. The second is that we simply don't enforce sick time as a requirement by law.

The best counting practice I think I had was at Microsoft, where at the time they have you two weeks beyond vacation time. I used a few just for mental health (getting married, moving 2,500 miles, having a baby, starting a new job, all in the same year, is exhausting). But the best arrangement I had was unlimited PTO. In practice, people averaged about 3.5 weeks or year, and I forced myself to do 4. But when you don't have to worry about the bank, you stay home and sleep.

It's more challenging to take off when you're remote, because you figure that you're home anyway. That's a little broken. And now, vacation when you're remote and you can't really travel anywhere, I don't even know why to do with that.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

My previous employer, you had your 2-6 weeks depending on time served and had to use it each year or you lost it. Along with that, I believe it was 5 sick days. Before I left, they bumped up our vacation days and gave 'unlimited' sick days, before I guess people abused it and they rolled back to limiting sick time. I was gone by that point though.

The place I have been at for three years now or so, I got 3 weeks PTO. That includes sick time. However, we have flex time so can really work and put in our hours in whenever. So we often will work extra mon-wed to take Friday off "free" with no use of PTO. We can move our holidays around, which is nice, to take advantage of cheaper flights on weekends before/after the holidays, etc... We also can roll over some ridiculous amount of hours now, so we don't have to use it all. Since COVID forced us to cancel our Europe trip this year, among other things, now I have a nice bank of PTO hours. Within a few months, I earn more PPO per pay period so that will be nice.

The nice thing about the flex time is people tend to stay home when sick. While our company never really required you to be in your cubicle, COVID has likely changed our culture to be more work from home, I'd assume. So now when people don't feel well, I'm sure a much higher percentage will now just work from home and save PTO versus contaminating the office. So that's a big plus.

I'm thinking the company likes what that can offer too, as they have been growing like a weed the past few years adding hundreds of employees, buying out more and more available lease space in our business park. They fill it up as quickly as they get it. I'm sure saving some lease $$$ and overhead by having more people work remotely would be appealing. Win win for most.

Last edited by SteveWoA,
99er's avatar

What blows my mind are the people who don't use either, sick or vacation time. I don't understand that culture at all. It is very common where I work that people won't call off when they are sick or use vacation time to enjoy life. I even have co-workers ask me things like "Why are you taking another vacation" or even funnier "How do you get so much time off?". The company gives me three weeks a year and it rolls over year to year, plus they are pretty good with giving more time if you know how to move schedules around. So yeah, I'm gonna use as much of that as I can. I also don't mind calling off for being the least bit sick. They give us 6 "free days" to use each year that don't count against anything before you have to dip into your sick time.

Last edited by 99er,


I often hear some of those same sentiments from co workers. I'm taking the same time they earn as well but choose not to take. I've even had vacation hours declined by a former supervisor for no other reason other than "you are using them too frequently and we see a pattern of usage" despite having more than enough time in the bank and the time otherwise being available in terms of work coverage. For example, taking Fridays off for three day weekends would be denied for no other reason than "you did it 3 weeks ago so I'm not going to let you do it again for a while" despite there being ample coverage and having 100+ hours of banked time off.

Vater's avatar

My company has unlimited PTO. The startup that I worked for had that policy, and the larger company that acquired it a couple years ago saw how productive we were and decided to adopt the same policy. That said, I don't take much time off; maybe two to three weeks a year total. My boss actually encourages taking time off because she understands how stressful our job is and that mental stability and good work-life balance is invaluable.

99er's avatar

BrettV said:

... "you did it 3 weeks ago so I'm not going to let you do it again for a while" despite there being ample coverage and having 100+ hours of banked time off.

Thankfully that really isn't a problem for me. But in general for my department the computer will only kick back a request if it sees a pattern with just asking for normal days off. It's done so as to not allow someone with no seniority to request off every Saturday and Sunday. The easy workaround is to just add a vacation day to the request to break the pattern and then pull the request back once it's approved. My leadership doesn't really care one way or another how much you take off and they won't give you crap for it either which is nice. I've gotten the side-eye for taking a vacation in the middle of a large project/event before but once I was able to explain that my team had everything they needed to take care of it while I was gone my leader was cool with it.


ApolloAndy's avatar

I keep hearing that many European companies focus a lot less of society around work and, as a result, have 6-8 weeks off and <40 hour work weeks. Don't many have 6-12 months for parental leave? I'm pretty tempted to jump on that ship. Instead, I just slack off at my job and surf Coasterbuzz all day (though I feel a little guilty about it. Not guilty enough to stop, but a little guilty).

Last edited by ApolloAndy,

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Jeff's avatar

Europe is night and day different in terms of statutory time off. Fortunately, there are good US companies that emulate it, but they seem to mostly be in technology.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

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