J.C. Penney Extends Worker Furloughs

J.C. Penney will extend the temporary closure of its stores and business offices due to the coronavirus pandemic and temporarily furlough the majority of its store hourly associates.

The company said it would continue to follow guidance from local, state and federal officials and anticipates gradually reopening stores and offices in markets when it is safe to do so.

As a result of the store closures, the company decided to institute the hourly worker furloughs beginning April 2. On April 5, it will begin furloughing a proportion of the employees in the company’s home office, Salt Lake City and Soho design offices along with store salaried staffers. J.C. Penney furloughed many of its supply chain and logistics center workers on March 20. Furloughed associates who are currently enrolled in the company benefits program will continue to receive full health benefits, and the company plans to cover all employee-paid premiums for the furlough’s duration.

E-commerce distribution centers and customer care remain open, fulfilling online orders and answering customer inquiries, the company noted. They will follow enhanced social distancing, best practices for sanitization and other safety measures. J.C. Penney international operations continue while complying with government mandates.

The company stated that it has taken several actions to improve its cash position and financial flexibility during the pandemic, including deferring capital spending, utilizing funds available under the revolving credit facility, pausing hiring, cutting spending, reducing receipts and extending the terms for payment of goods and services. It also has suspended 2020 merit increases and is evaluating other financial options.

“These are difficult days all across the country and the globe,” said Jill Soltau, J.C. Penney CEO. “At J.C. Penney, we are making tough, prudent decisions to protect both the safety of our associates and the future of our company. We remain optimistic about J.C. Penney’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.”