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Best Buy will furlough 51,000 workers due to COVID-19 outbreak

The company's CEO, Corie Barry, said she will also take a 50 percent paycut to help Best Buy respond to the coronavirus crisis

Electronics retailer Best Buy announced Tuesday it is furloughing approximately 51,000 hourly employees, including nearly all part-time workers, as part of a series of decisions made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

CEO Corie Barry announced she will take a 50 percent pay cut, and the company's board of directors will forgo 50 percent of their cash retainers through at least September 1, the company also said.

Other company executives who report directly to Barry will take a 20 percent pay cut, while other corporate employees are participating in voluntarily reduced work weeks and furloughs, Best Buy announced.

“The situation we are all facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is truly unprecedented," Barry said in a press release. “The situation remains very fluid and there is still a great deal of uncertainty, particularly as it relates to depth and duration of store closures and consumer confidence over time. 

"We are taking the steps necessary to resume providing our customers in-home services in the near future, keeping in mind our overriding priority on the safety of our employees and customers. We are also preparing to re-open stores to customers as soon as it is safe to do so, with timing likely to vary at state and local levels. In the meantime, as you would expect, we are focused on making the difficult decisions necessary to ensure that at the end of this crisis Best Buy remains a strong, vibrant company.”

In this context, Barry said, the company is taking the following actions:

  • Beginning April 19, the company is temporarily furloughing approximately 51,000 domestic hourly store employees, including nearly all part-time employees. The company is retaining approximately 82% of its full-time store and field employees on its payroll, including the vast majority of In-Home Advisors and Geek Squad Agents. Furloughed employees will retain their health benefits at no cost to them for a minimum of three months.
  • Beginning April 19, some corporate employees are participating in voluntary reduced work weeks and resulting pay, as well as voluntary furloughs.
  • Barry will forego 50% of her base salary and the members of the Board of Directors will forego 50% of their cash retainer fees through at least September 1, 2020.
  • Company executives reporting directly to the CEO will take a 20% reduction in base salary through at least September 1.

In order to help employees financially impacted by the pandemic, Best Buy has partnered with its founder, Dick Schulze, to establish a $10 million employee assistance fund, available to all part- and full-time hourly employees who have been with the company longer than one year. 

Best Buy and Schulze shared equally in the creation of the fund and the company’s portion was paid by repurposing the majority of its annual corporate giving budget.

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