As concerns for the coronavirus continue to grow, so are the responses from major chains in the industry.
McDonald’s, the top-earning fast-food brand in the world, announced Tuesday that it will pay hourly employees at U.S. company-owned units who have to quarantine for 14 days. Corporate stores represent about 5 percent of the more than 14,400 in the U.S. The brand said most of its stores have polices to offer paid leave and that company-owned employees can earn up to five paid days off per year.
"The health and well-being of our people, our customers and our communities is our highest priority and drives our decision-making," the chain said in a statement. "As we proactively monitor the impact of the coronavirus, we are continuously evaluating our policies to provide flexibility and reasonable accommodations."
The move follows Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants, which said earlier this week that it will immediately institute paid sick leave for its current hourly employees.
The announcement from McDonald’s also comes after Fight for $15, a national labor group, publicly pressured the brand to provide paid sick days to all workers, including the full length of a quarantine period or if their immediate family showcases symptoms. Additionally, the group requested that the chain update its safety protocols, pay workers for any missed shifts if a unit is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, provide protections that mitigate harmful economic effects and lay out a process to return to work, and post all coronavirus policies in stores and train workers accordingly.
Before this week’s announcement, McDonald’s canceled its biennial Worldwide Convention in Orlando in favor of a digital meeting. CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a video last week that McDonald’s will continue to “provide tools and resources for restaurants to enhance our everyday commitment to the highest possible standards of hygiene and cleanliness.” The chain is advising U.S. stores to sanitize more frequently and provide hand sanitizer to customers and employees.