McDonald's is looking into Covid-related 'unsafe' working conditions after concerns from staff

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 2:47 pm
An investigation has been launched into the "unsafe" working conditions reported by McDonald's staff (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Fast food chain McDonald’s has announced that it has launched an investigation following reports from staff that Covid-19 measures and regulations have failed to be properly followed.

McDonald’s workers across Kent, Merseyside and Greater Manchester all spoke to Sky News, and revealed how their stores have been repeatedly breaching Covid-19 health and safety rules.

‘Nobody socially distances’

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One staff member said: “I think the management are working as if we are not in a pandemic right now.

“My temperature isn’t checked at the start of every shift when it should be, and in my store nobody really socially distances. People hug and there is no sort of discipline by the managers for these people that are just breaching the rules.

“In my store, [my colleagues] hug because they think it’s funny, but it really isn’t. I’m scared to go to work because I live with two people who are clinically vulnerable.”

Another McDonald’s worker said: “I’ve not have my temperature checked at work since July. You are supposed to get covered every half an hour to go and wash your hands but it’s not happening.

“If I was to leave my station to go and wash my hands, the manager would be like “where is she - she’s got order on the screen”, but you are literally going to do something you are supposed to do when Covid is spreading like wildfire - it’s unsafe.”

‘Risking lives’

Melissa Evans, a customer experience leader at a McDonald’s branch in south London said: “They are risking lives by not ensuring that their workers are safe.

“My store is good, and we still do all those things, but it’s a different picture around the country… it’s not happening everywhere and a lot of workers are saying they feel unsafe and they are questioning whether we should stay open or not.”

At a branch in Kent, a worker explained how he believed his local managers knew how slack things had gotten.

He said: “I think they are very aware, they know no one is doing it.

“It gets very busy - we can’t just walk away from our stations without being covered and if you can’t walk away without being covered you can’t go away and wash your hands.

“You can’t go off to a sink - it’s just making the environment to be extremely unsafe.

“There is a just a lack of care, a lack of people giving thought to the rules and ignoring them frequently.

“There is nothing you can do at all, I don’t think there is actually anyway to affect change - there’s maybe one or two shifts where things do change but then you fall back into that pattern of the rules being ignored.

“I worry about my family getting Covid, and you know, it creates a lot of anxiety, it makes our lives very stressful - more stressful than they need to be. We are already in a very stressful time and I think it burns people out… it burns people out emotionally.”

‘Zero confidence’

A Merseyside-based worker said he is concerned about the number of colleagues he has seen test positive for the virus.

He said: “I have literally got zero confidence. I feel like even if I was to approach management it is very passive aggressive - I feel like I could get punished by it, and less shifts and treated less favourably.

“It feels like now any time the rules will be followed is when an area manager or someone from head office comes into the store to visit.”

‘Investigating the issues raised’

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “We continue to work hard with our franchisees and third party safety experts to ensure robust safety measures are in place and being followed, to help protect our people and customers.

“We have regularly reviewed and updated these procedures since that start of the pandemic. We are deeply concerned to hear this feedback, and while we are confident this relates to a very small number of the 130,000 people we employ across the UK and Ireland, we strongly believe that every one of our employees should feel safe within the workplace.

“We are investigating the issues raised as a matter of urgency, and strongly encourage any of our employees with concerns to raise these using the various channels we have in place.”

McDonald’s coronavirus measures

On the McDonald’s website, it claims that branches are undertaking the following measures in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers:

  • Fewer people working on each shift to aid social distancing, and limiting the amount of people inside the restaurant at one time
  • Staff are meant to be washing their hands at least every 30 minutes and sanitiser is meant to have been provided to teams
  • Equipment, kiosks and card readers are meant to be cleaned at least every 30 minutes
  • Staff are meant to be provided with additional protective equipment, including face coverings
  • Staff are meant to have their temperatures checked every day with contactless thermometers