CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) — The Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant will begin furloughing production and maintenance workers who haven’t been able to work since the factory’s production suspension on March 21.
The suspension was done to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and came before the state stay-at-home order.
The “temporary emergency furloughs” begin April 11, the company said.
“Our primary objective is to protect the financial health of Volkswagen for the benefit of our team as we address the emerging and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on our industry,” Tom du Plessis, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said. “Right now we have limited visibility on when we will be able to resume production, but we are committed to doing everything we can to preserve jobs. During this time we will be intensely focused on preparing to reopen in a responsible way, ensuring our team has the opportunity to return to work safely and as quickly as practicable.”
Volkswagen is taking steps to limit the furlough’s impact on employees, which is expected to last no more than four weeks, the company said.
During this time, Volkswagen will continue to provide health care benefits and coverage of premiums, paying both employer and employee contributions. Employees will still receive their first quarter bonuses as well as their March monthly bonuses.
The recent enhancement of unemployment benefits under the CARES Act will allow these employees to receive an additional $600 per week in federal compensation.
All furloughed employees will remain Volkswagen employees through the duration of the furlough period. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and accrued paid time off.
Nonfurloughed employees will continue working from home and will use one mandatory vacation day next week, the company said. All employees have been asked to self-quarantine and maintain social distancing as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Volkswagen employees and production contractors have received full pay and benefits for the last three weeks of the production halt.
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