- The labor advocacy group Fight for $15, which includes McDonald's workers, issued several demands of McDonald’s in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the group said on its website Tuesday. These demands including offering sick leave to workers at both corporate and franchisee-owned stores in the event that they or an immediate family member show symptoms of COVID-19, including paid sick leave until staff or a family member tests negative or are cleared by a health professional; paying employees who are quarantined; paying employees who need to stay home because of school or district closures; and covering the cost of testing or treatment of COVID-19.
- The group also demanded that the restaurant company update its safety protocols, including making sure there is enough staff to accommodate for the increased frequency of cleaning and to make sure these tasks are done safely; providing additional cleaning supplies and protective equipment that is consistent with expert recommendations; and offering expert guidance on how to minimize infection risk for all workers, including point-of-sale interactions.
- McDonald's will pay any corporate-owned restaurant workers that are asked to quarantine for 14 days, a McDonald's spokesperson told Restaurant Dive in an emailed statement. The chain's company stores and many of its franchisees also have an existing policy where full- and part-time crew members can earn up to five days of paid-time off each year.
Restaurants are reacting swiftly to the spread of the coronavirus, which experts say could infect up to 70% of the global population. Many chains have enhanced existing paid sick leave policies or added paid sick leave for hourly employees. Darden was the first major chain to expand its benefits for hourly employees to include paid sick leave.
While McDonald's already has five days of paid leave set up across most of its system, it is closely monitoring how coronavirus is impacting its store network. Its new policy to offer 2-weeks of paid leave for workers at corporate-owned stores, however, impacts less than 5% of the chain's restaurants in the U.S., according to Restaurant Business.
"The health and wellbeing of our people, our customers and our communities is our highest priority and drives our decision making," a McDonald's spokesperson told Restaurant Dive in a statement. "As we proactively monitor the impact of the coronavirus, we are continuously evaluating our policies to provide flexibility and reasonable accommodations. Our people are the heart and soul of the McDonald's family and, of course, we will support them through this unique circumstance."
The company also implemented enhancements to its cleaning standards, such as increasing the stock of hand sanitizing gel dispensers located in the entrances and lobbies of its restaurants and upping the frequency of sanitization of all surfaces and kiosks and disinfecting trays, dining tables and chairs after each use.
On March 6, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempcinski cancelled the in-person Worldwide Convention, where people working within the McDonald’s system come from over 400 countries, in favor of a digital Worldwide Convention.
Despite these efforts, workers who are part of the Fight for $15 movement wants the company to do more.
"McDonald's has provided no training or information on how to protect ourselves and has offered no policy on what happens to us if we or a family member is affected or if our store is forced to close," Fran Marion, a McDonald’s worker in Kansas City, Missouri, said in a press release. "The company canceled a meeting of executives and franchisees, but it’s not making any plans for us front-line workers, who cannot afford to take a day off without pay if we get sick."
Because most of McDonald's system is franchised, it can also be difficult to ensure that franchise operators offer proper training and sick leave, which can also be inconsistent across restaurants depending on the franchisee policies as well as state and local laws. Joint liability was also reduced for franchisers earlier this year, which could make any future fights difficult, especially if a franchisee is found at fault for not providing training or proper benefits.
Just because McDonald's has a sick leave policy also doesn't necessarily mean it is always enforced by local stores. Such was the case with a Chipotle in New York City, when an employee said she was fired after using paid sick leave mandated under New York City law to care for herself and her family. As part of a settlement, she received $2,500 in restitution and was reinstated. McDonald's said it has a non-retaliation policy and processed in place for employees to report any retaliation, which could prevent any future lawsuits such as Chipotle's.
— Emma Liem Beckett contributed to this report.