- McDonald's wrote in a note to its workers Wednesday that U.S. corporate employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 27, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- The mega chain has also delayed the reopening of its headquarters and other U.S. offices from Sept. 7 to Oct. 11. Employees will be required to wear face masks, but McDonald's said this measure could be optional in the future, according to the Journal.
- McDonald's appears to be the first major restaurant chain to require COVID-19 vaccination of its workforce, though many companies have strongly encouraged and incentivized office and store staff to get their shots.
McDonald's vaccination requirement could spark similar policies at restaurant chains as the delta variant proliferates and experts worry about an even larger surge in cases this fall. The question is whether the Golden Arches will require vaccinations of its hourly restaurant workers as well.
Such a measure could help the chain with employee retention, as many restaurant workers claim to have left — or are considering leaving — the industry over safety concerns.
"A resurgence of infections caused by Covid-19 variants has many of us uneasy." McDonald's Global Chief People Officer Heidi Capozzi wrote to corporate employees, the Journal reports. "We've heard from many of you that you would feel more comfortable returning to the office if you had more certainty your colleagues were vaccinated."
Chipotle is also mulling vaccine mandates as "more employees [are] being excluded from work" because they have contracted COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who tested positive, but the Mexican chain is focusing on corporate employees here as well, CEO Brian Niccol told the Washington Post Wednesday in a video interview.
"What we are waiting on is for the final approval of the vaccine, and where I think we're leaning toward is, in order to be able to come back to the office ... we're going to have to have everybody vaccinated to ensure it's safe," Niccol said. "So once the vaccine gets to approval I think it just gives us a lot more latitude in ensuring that every employee is vaccinated before they can come to the office, before they can come to large gatherings."
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved emergency use of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. The administration could grant these vaccinations full approval in the coming weeks, however.
Niccol added the company is exploring whether there is a technology solution for implementing a vaccine mandate at the company and to ensure "all our employees that are working have at least one dose or have taken other mitigating factors into place so that they are safe to work."
Both McDonald's and Chipotle were first movers in incentivizing their workers and customers to get vaccinated.
McDonald's orchestrated vaccination events to make it easier for its restaurant workers and customers to get their shots and placed pro-vaccine messaging on its coffee cups to encourage customers to receive the vaccine. The company also offers up to four hours of paid time off to employees at corporate-owned restaurants who get vaccinated.
Chipotle also covers the costs associated with receiving the vaccine, and offered a free burrito deal for vaccinated customers earlier this summer.
Like Chipotle, it's likely that other restaurant chains are considering making proof of vaccination a requirement for employees to work onsite. According to a survey from Willis Towers Watson, almost half of employers say they're at least considering this measure as a requirement for in-person work.