McDonald’s Corp. is requiring U.S.-based office workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations and is delaying the return of employees to its corporate offices until October, according to memos reported Wednesday.
The company said it was pushing back its planned office reopening to Oct. 11 from Sept. 7 to allow employees time to get the required vaccinations.
Heidi Capozzi, McDonald's global chief people officer, in an internal note to U.S.-based employees and obtained by Nation's Restaurant News, said “a resurgence of infections caused by COVID-19 variants has many of us uneasy” and that the company was revising its plans.
“We have decided to transition from strongly encouraging vaccinations to requiring vaccinations for all U.S.-based staff,” the note said. “This decision was made in close consultation with our partners at the Mayo Clinic and with guidance from public health officials.”
Capozzi added that “employees who are already fully vaccinated are welcome, and encouraged, to still return to the office on Tuesday, Sept. 7. We know many of you have made your plans and are eager to safely collaborate with leaders and colleagues in person.” U.S. McDonald’s Corp. workers are eligible for up to four hours of paid time off to get the vaccinations, she added.
She noted that the policy does not extend currently to U.S. McDonald’s Operated Company, or McOpCo, restaurants or franchised units.
“We are working closely with our partners at Mayo Clinic to determine the best course of action for our McOpCo teams to continue prioritizing their health and safety,” Capozzi wrote. “However, the vaccine requirement and timeline does extend to suppliers and contractors who visit MHQ or other McDonald's U.S. offices.”
Todd Penegor, CEO of the Wendy’s Co., in an interview Thursday said the Dublin, Ohio-based burger brand would not be requiring employee vaccinations.
“For corporate staff, it’s not going to be a requirement,” Penegor said. “We will continue to educate like we have been doing around the benefits of vaccination.”
Penegor, who said he suffered a COVID-19 infection earlier in the pandemic and has since been vaccinated, added that vaccinations were a “personal choice.”
“We … want to be respectful of some of the personal choices and some of the reasons why some folks don't get vaccinated,” he said. Company-owned restaurants will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, he added, and “whatever the local and state mandates are, we will absolutely be on the front foot following all those along the way.”
McDonald’s, with its vaccine requirement, joined the New York Stock Exchange and NBCUniversal in adopting a vaccination policy amid a surge in the coronavirus’ delta variant. Some major companies such as Google, Uber Technologies Inc. and Facebook Inc. earlier said their U.S. employees must get vaccinated to work in offices after new CDC guidance that requires fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks.
Update Aug. 12, 2021: This story has been updated with information from the McDonald’s memo.
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