McDonald’s is combating the pandemic by paying U.S. corporate workers and employees at company-run locations to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
The fast-food giant will provide four hours of paid time for those who get vaccinated. McDonald’s won’t require employees to be vaccinated, but it will encourage vaccination and connect employees to trusted, third-party experts to give important information and answer questions they have.
“Vaccination is essential in the fight against the pandemic, and we are actively encouraging McDonald’s employees to take this important step,” Tiffanie Boyd, McDonald's U.S. chief people officer, said in an emailed statement to QSR. “We will provide four hours of paid time to crew at McDonald’s corporate-owned U.S. restaurants and to U.S.corporate employees who receive the vaccine. Ensuring widespread availability and access to the vaccine will require extraordinary partnerships between businesses, governments and community and health organizations, and we’re engaging with government officials and our partners to understand where McDonald’s can further support this work.”
Since the pandemic began, McDonald’s said it has updated almost 50 processes to keep workers and consumers safe and has issued a 59-page guide outlining national standards for restaurants. Those standards include wellness checks, protective barriers, adhering to social distancing guidelines for customers and crew, using gloves and masks, increasing the frequency of handwashing and moving to contactless operations. Each restaurant has an ample supply of PPE; more than 110 million masks have been distributed to employees.
McDonald’s isn’t the only major brand incentivizing employees. Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse parent Darden Restaurants said it will provide two hours of pay for each dose of the vaccine. The full-service company made the move so workers won’t have to use their paid sick leave. Other chains like Yum!, the parent of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Habit Burger, and KFC, and Chipotle told CNBC they won’t mandate vaccinations. Starbucks, which is assisting with the rollout of vaccinations in Washington State, hasn’t decided how it will approach vaccinations for employees.
According to the CDC, restaurant workers are recommended to receive the vaccination in Phase 1c, which comes after frontline essential workers, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, and individuals above 75. More than 70 million are believed to be in Phase 1a and Phase 1b. Each state has created its own timeline based off the CDC recommendations, so it is unclear when restaurant employees will get their turn around the country.