[8:45 a.m. Eastern, March 27, 2020; This story has been updated to reflect when the furloughs are planned to start and when the executive team stopped taking their salaries.]
Unless he knows when the shutdown of businesses due to the coronavirus will end, Bahram Akradi, founder and CEO of Life Time, Chanhassen, Minnesota, said that he will have to furlough 90 percent of his 40,000 employees starting March 29..
Akradi made the comments on the March 25 episode of the Fox News show “Ingraham Angle,” hosted by Laura Ingraham.
Akradi and his executive team stopped taking any compensation “as soon as this thing broke out a couple of weeks ago” and committed to paying employees through March 29, he told Ingraham. The executive team's salary halt began on March 16 when the company temporarily closed its clubs nationwide, according to a Life Time spokesperson. The closures are for an undetermined time "dependent on governmental guideance," the company says on its website. The company also said that member accounts would be credited for the number of days the club is closed.
“After what I have seen come out of these stimulus plans, without having a certain date that we know we can go back to work, I have no choice but to put probably 90 percent of my 40,000 people on furlough starting…” Akradi said before being interrupted by Ingraham.
Ingraham did not follow up with Akradi about the date he would need to start the furloughs, but Club Industry reached out to Life Time, and a spokesperson said furloughs would begin on March 29.
Ingraham instead asked Akradi if President Trump’s statement that he wants businesses opened by Easter (which is April 12) was music to his ears and those of other business owners.
“Yes, you are absolutely correct,” Akradi said. “Our president has the right instinct. He knows as a businessman what this means. Without a date, myself, all other executives, CEOs, board rooms, you name it, business owners, we are completely paralyzed and crippled. We cannot make any decisions. If I knew I could get my people back to work on 15th of April, I would absolutely pull them right back from the furlough immediately. If I know that we can be back to work by May 1, I can make additional provisions.”
Akradi also shared that he has committed to making sure all Life Time employees will get full medical coverage with no premium starting immediately.