Penguins furlough some employees for 4 months amid COVID-19 pandemic

Penguins furloughing some employees for 4 months amid COVID-19 pandemic

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins are furloughing employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused all professional sports leagues in the U.S. to suspend their seasons.

In a release Tuesday, communications director Tom McMillan said the franchise instituted a “four-month unpaid leave of absence program for a number of employees" starting June 1 due to the financial struggles caused by the coronavirus.

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The specific number of employees who are affected was not disclosed by the team.

McMillan said everyone impacted by the furloughs will receive full health benefits and are eligible for unemployment and stimulus benefits.

David Morehouse, the Penguins president and CEO, made the announcement on a video conference with the staff Monday, calling it “the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my professional career.”

In March, the NHL announced all league office officials would cut their salaries to 25% in an effort to offset the revenue loss and avoid layoffs. Players also postponed their paychecks in April.

There have been several teams to furlough or lay off part of their staff during the pandemic, including the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators.

Below is the full statement from the Penguins:

"Beginning on June 1, the Pittsburgh Penguins will institute a four-month unpaid leave of absence program for a number of employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those impacted by this program will remain Penguins employees and receive full health benefits from the team. They also will be eligible for unemployment and stimulus benefits.

David Morehouse, the Penguins president and CEO, made the announcement on a video conference with the staff Monday, calling it “the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my professional career.”

“With the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its growing impact on our business, I have made the very painful decision to reduce our operations to help us weather this unprecedented health and financial crisis,” Morehouse said.

The NHL paused its season on March 12, and the league has made no decision on when games will resume. All Penguins employees have been paid in full over the past two months.

Morehouse will take a 50-percent pay reduction, and other senior executives and coaches will take 25-percent pay reductions.

The Penguins also have created an employee assistance fund for employees facing economic hardships.

Morehouse and other department heads reached out on Monday to speak one-on-one with affected employees. The team’s HR department is offering assistance on filing for unemployment and other matters.

“These decisions are extremely difficult, but they are necessary for us to endure this crisis, and to be able to resume our position as one of the best teams in sports whenever hockey returns,” Morehouse said.

“My hope is that hockey will resume in the relatively near future, and that we will be back operating with an increased staff.”