- Hobby Lobby is closing all of its stores nationwide and putting most of its employees on leave, according to a shared statement on the company’s website Friday afternoon.
- Beginning on Friday, Hobby Lobby “will end compensation for emergency leave and suspend use of the company on the condition of receiving paid leave and vacation,” the statement said.
- The announcement comes after the craft store quietly reopened stores in several states, defying mandatory state closings that required the closure of non-essential businesses.
- “The line our manager gave us was:” The employees got what they wanted, the stores were closed, “” said a Hobby Lobby, Indiana employee to Business Insider.
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After quietly reopening stores across the country in disregard of state foreclosure orders related to the coronavirus, Hobby Lobby is closing all stores nationwide and putting employees on leave.
In a statement posted on the company’s website on Friday afternoon, Hobby Lobby announced that it would lay off “almost all the employees of the store” and that it “would end emergency leave and suspend the ‘use of the business provided you receive benefits and paid vacations’.
“As the country continues its efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic effects of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close its remaining stores and lay off almost all of the store employees and a large number of part of companies. and distribution workers, starting Friday, April 3 at 8:00 p.m., “said Hobby Lobby on its website. “The stores will remain closed until further notice. “
According to three employees, each speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, their store managers called teams for a meeting on Friday afternoon. During meetings, they were told that the leave would impact all workers below the management level and should end at least May 1.
An Indiana employee told Business Insider that her manager said she would continue working, although she “has no idea why she would still be there” if the stores were closed.
“The line our manager gave us was:” The employees got what they wanted, the stores were closed, “” the Indiana employee said in an interview shortly after learning of permission to go out. “My question was, did God tell them that they should close the stores and not pay us? “
“Do everything you can to continue working with employees”
The announcement comes in the wake of controversy for Hobby Lobby after the chain of craft stores refused to close its stores and join the nearly 100 large retailers who temporarily closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus .
Although each state has autonomy in defining parameters around what is considered an essential enterprise, craft stores are not included in the list of universally accepted essential enterprises, nor do they appear in the guidance on the subject provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
In its announcement on Friday, Hobby Lobby said it was essential and said it had “implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment” for buyers and consumers. These methods included “installing physical barriers between customers and cashiers, improved cleaning and applying social distancing measures” – tactics that, according to employees of Business Insider this week, were not applied or n were not enough to make them feel safe.
“We know our customers were counting on us to provide essentials, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who now educate their children at home and their children.” thousands of small craft businesses. who rely on us for the supplies they need to make their products, “said Hobby Lobby in the release.
In a series of leaked memos obtained by Business Insider, Hobby Lobby initially refused to grant employees sick leave and instead required sick workers to use their paid vacation and vacation days, before putting implement an “emergency compensation” program. Before the leave, this emergency allowance was to represent 75% of an employee’s regular earnings based on “the average number of hours in the previous six weeks”.
In addition, company executives told managers that they “would do their best to continue working with employees” and then provided them with talking points on “how to respond and communicate if they are visited by a local authority asking why we are open, ”according to a memo obtained by Business Insider.
“We are ready to reopen our stores responsibly when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers to our stores,” Hobby Lobby said in the statement on Friday. “Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, the protection of health care professionals caring for the sick, the economic security of all affected businesses and employees, and the wisdom of our leaders. “