​McDonald's UK Chief Faces Parliamentary Inquiry Over Workplace Culture Concerns

​McDonald's UK Chief Faces Parliamentary Inquiry Over Workplace Culture Concerns

Posted by Emily on 10th Nov 2023

The head of McDonald's in the UK, Alistair Macrow, has been summoned to appear before Members of Parliament (MPs) to address mounting concerns about a troubling work environment at the fast-food giant. Alistair Macrow will testify before the Business and Trade Committee on November 14.

McDonald's Swiss Cottage (49685735478) Tony Hall from London, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This development follows a report by the BBC, revealing that over 160 individuals had come forward with complaints of sexual assault, harassment, racism, and bullying within McDonald's. The allegations surfaced after the BBC's initial investigation in July.

Leigh Day, a law firm, has initiated collective legal action against McDonald's, one of the United Kingdom's largest private sector employers, with over 170,000 employees across 1,450 restaurants. One of their clients shared disturbing experiences, including witnessing older male colleagues betting on who could engage with new recruits, encountering inappropriate physical contact by a manager, and hearing offensive comments about her appearance.

Reports of sexual harassment at McDonald's initially emerged in the UK five years ago when the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) received 1,000 complaints from crew members. Leigh Day has pointed out that even McDonald's staff under the age of 20 may be eligible for compensation, even if they haven't experienced harassment themselves, due to their exposure to unsafe workplace practices.

Kiran Daurka, a partner at Leigh Day, stressed the importance of providing a safe working environment, particularly for McDonald's young and inexperienced workforce. She noted that some of the stories of sexual abuse and harassment, both from the BBC report and direct accounts, are deeply concerning.

In addition to hearing from trade unions and McDonald's employees, the Business and Trade Committee will investigate the company's culture and practices.

When the allegations were made public earlier this year, Alistair Macrow expressed his personal and professional shock. In February, McDonald's signed an agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), committing to a "zero tolerance" stance against harassment.

Macrow stated, "I am fully committed to eliminating any behaviour that falls below the high standards of respect, safety, and inclusion we expect from everyone at McDonald's." He assured that McDonald's is thoroughly investigating all allegations and has reviewed its code of conduct, complaint procedures, and disciplinary processes.

McDonald's has engaged external experts from PwC to assess its employment practices to ensure impartiality. Macrow acknowledged that implementing new processes across the company's 1,500 UK and Ireland locations will take time but assured that cases brought to their attention would be addressed promptly and decisively.

He emphasised, "I understand the courage it takes to speak out, and my top priority is to act swiftly and decisively in response to what we learn."

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