- McDonald's is partnering with its franchisees to roll out wellness checks that will determine if employees are fit to begin their shifts amid the novel coronavirus crisis, according to a company release. When workers clock in, they will be asked the following questions: Are they showing symptoms associated with COVID-19? Have they been diagnosed with COVID-19? Have they had close contact in the past 14 days with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19? Have they been told by a healthcare or public health official that they should self-quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure, or that they are suspected of having COVID-19?
- Employees who answer "yes" to any of these questions will be sent home and cannot return to work before being authorized to do so by a medical professional.
- McDonald's also plans to take employee's temperatures as part of its wellness checks, according to Business Insider. "We have secured thermometers and we're in the process now of quickly making them available to all of our restaurants," David Tovar, VP of McDonald's U.S. communications, told the publication Wednesday.
It will take a few weeks for McDonald's to distribute thermometers to its entire U.S. system, and the chain is also gathering masks for employees that work in markets that have significant COVID-19 outbreaks, Tovar told Business Insider.
He also told the publication that McDonald's is considering hazard pay and bonuses for workers amid the crisis, and that the vast majority of McDonald's employees have access to paid sick leave as franchisees with between 50 and 500 employees are now required to offer two weeks of paid leave thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
It will be interesting to see how the chain's franchisees are impacted by these new requirements. Just a few weeks ago, McDonald's reportedly pushed against the sick leave provision in the coronavirus relief package out of concern for operator profitability. This is a legitimate concern — 20,000 to 30,000 franchise businesses will lose all liquidity in the next month if they don’t get immediate relief, according to research by the International Franchise Association.
McDonald's is eliminating base rent in April and May and will postpone scheduled ground breaks for new units to ease financial pressure on franchisees, Business Insider reports.
But McDonald's must strike a balance between support for operators and support for employees. A few weeks ago, it was met with backlash by Fight for $15, which demanded that the company do more to protect and compensate employees who are working as the virus spreads.
These wellness checks should be a free and easy way for the company to protect employees and customers and make its team members feel valued — so long as managers actually ensure that these questions are asked. Corporate influence over franchisees is tricky given these operators' independence and the Department of Labor's new, more narrow joint-employer definition.