Business / Corporate

Apple tells staff U.S. stores will remain closed until early May due to pandemic

BLOOMBERG

Apple Inc. on Thursday told employees that its retail stores in the U.S. will remain closed and that work-from-home procedures will stay in place until early May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a memo to employees, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and People Deirdre O’Brien told staff the company anticipates that “flexible work arrangements will remain in place for all offices, and all retail stores will remain closed, until early May.”

She said that Apple was “continuing to monitor local conditions for every Apple facility on a daily basis” and that the company would make “reopening decisions on the basis of thorough, thoughtful reviews and the latest guidance from local governments and public health experts.”

The company was “working on options to make sure parents have the support and the flexibility to adjust their schedules as needed,” according to the note. O’Brien also added that Apple was aware “many parents are balancing homeschooling with working” and is encouraging employees to be open with management about their challenges.

O’Brien previously told staff that some stores outside of the U.S. could open as early as the first half of April, according to media reports. In Thursday’s note, O’Brien also said that the firm’s “executive team is meeting daily and closely coordinating with teams across the company.”

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has about 270 stores in the U.S. that are part of the 458 stores outside of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong shuttered in March to help curb the spread of the new virus.

Nearly all of Apple’s global corporate employees, including engineers, are working from home, causing some product delays and the need for staff to adjust to a new reality.

Apple has been asking retail store employees to temporarily become remote technical support staff while stores remain closed. A subset of retail staff are participating in the program to become work-from-home AppleCare employees so the company has enough workers to handle customer requests.

Some workers said their current situation prevented them from participating and they worried that could put them in lesser standing with their managers. Others said they were surprised by the request after Apple had pledged to keep paying them just for staying home. Some have said they are happy to assist during this unprecedented period.

Several store workers were sent forms to sign up, and those who don’t want to are being asked to explain why. The employees asked not to be identified speaking about internal issues. Still, the program is not mandatory, and Apple confirmed that all retail employees, regardless of participation, are being paid their full salaries and benefits.

Your news needs your support

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.

Coronavirus banner