Why world's largest hotel company Marriott International is placing thousands of employees on leave of absence

As projected by economists across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is already taking its toll on businesses and some are already announcing measures they will be taking in response to the pandemic. Among those that have openly admitted that the pandemic has affected their businesses is global hospitality company – Marriott International with headquarters in Maryland, the United States.

The world's largest hotel company and one of the oldest in the world has said it would be placing tens of thousands of employees on leave of absence for two to three months and will shorten work weeks for employees and executives not working directly at hotels.

The hospitality industry has been the worst hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, according to Yahoo Finance, shares of the 92-year-old hotel company had lost 17.56% over the past month.

The President and CEO of Marriott International, Arne Sorenson, in an emotional video address, said he and the executive chairman Bill Marriott Jr. will also receive no salary for the rest of 2020, and the company's executive team will take 50 per cent pay cuts.

Although the company had gone through numerous business-threatening events – from World War II to the September 11, 2001 attack on United States world trade center and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008–09, Sorenson said "COVID-19 is like nothing we've ever seen before" and it is having more of an impact on the company than the 9/11 and global financial crisis.

"In two weeks I will mark my eighth anniversary as CEO, as a leader I have experienced so many wonderful highs and a good number of challenging lows," he said.

"I can tell you that I've never had a more difficult moment than this one.

"There is simply nothing worse than telling highly valued associates – people who are the very heart of this company – that their roles are being impacted by events completely outside of their control," Sorenson

According to the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission, at year-end 2018, Marriott International had approximately 176,000 employees and has 7,200 properties across 134 countries at January 2020.

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