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Mar 10, 2020

McDonald’s to pay corporate workers for 2 weeks in quarantine

An employee hands a beverage to a customer at the drive-thru window of a McDonald's Corp. restaurant in Peru, Illinois. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

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McDonald’s Corp. said it will offer employees of corporate-owned U.S. restaurants two weeks of pay in the event of a quarantine, making the fast-food chain the latest company to offer concessions as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

Corporate-owned restaurants also have existing policies to offer up to five paid time off days per year, according to information provided by the company. These locations, however, account for about 5 per cent of total U.S. locations, with the rest being franchised, according to a recent filing. McDonald’s had 13,846 U.S. restaurants at the end of 2019.

“As we pro-actively monitor the impact of the coronavirus, we are continuously evaluating our policies to provide flexibility and reasonable accommodations,” McDonald’s said in an e-mailed statement. “Our people are the heart and soul of the McDonald’s family and, of course, we will support them through this unique circumstance.”

Coronavirus cases are surging in the U.S. and abroad, and health officials and government authorities are urging workers to stay home from work if they are sick. This poses a challenge for the restaurant industry, however: Hourly employees that lack paid sick leave may show up to work anyway if they’re under financial pressure, and inadvertantly contribute to the virus’s propagation.

Earlier on Tuesday, McDonald’s employees, a union of restaurant workers and the Fight for US$15 advocacy group called on McDonald’s to provide paid sick leave to “all workers who wear the McDonald’s uniform.” Currently, McDonald’s only offers paid sick days to employees who work in states where the laws require it, says Allynn Umel, organizing director of the group.

McDonald’s acknowledged that sick leave policies “vary by market and restaurant in accordance with local laws,” but the company’s locations “strive to provide flexibility to crewmembers.”

McDonald’s new policy follows an announcement from Walmart Inc., which started an emergency leave policy in response to the outbreak. On Monday, Olive Garden operator Darden Restaurants Inc. announced a new paid sick leave policy.

McDonald’s said it is also carrying out enhanced hygiene procedures at its restaurants, including stocking sanitizing gel dispensers and doing more frequent cleaning.