McDonald's UK 'receives 1-2 complaints of sexual harassment per week'

14 November 2023 by
McDonald's UK 'receives 1-2 complaints of sexual harassment per week'

The UK boss of McDonald's has revealed it receives up to two complaints of sexual harassment from staff members in its restaurants per week.

Alistair Macrow told MPs some of the cases had been "absolutely horrendous" and said the perpetrators would be "eradicated" from the business.

McDonald's is one of the UK's largest private sector employers with more than 170,000 staff working across 1,450 restaurants. It is facing growing pressure to improve its work culture after more than 160 people told the BBC they had experienced sexual assault, racism, harassment and bullying while working at the chain.

Macrow said McDonald's had received 407 complaints from staff since setting up an independent handling unit in July, some of which stretched back to the 1980s. These included accusations of sexual assault, bullying and racism.

Of the 157 cases that had been investigated, 75 resulted in disciplinary action and there were 18 dismissals.

Macrow said there had been 17 confirmed cases of sexual harassment in the company and a further 27 were under investigation.

"We would see typically between 20-25 contacts per week of which one or two would be sexual harassment and about five would be bullying," said Macrow.

He told MPs some cases had been escalated to the police but was unable to confirm the exact number.

Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), also appeared before MPs today and said he had heard accusations of sexual harassment at McDonald's since 2014.

He said union representatives had visited "every store in London" and heard complaints from workers that their claims had been ignored.

"Some of the stories are absolutely horrific…in the 21st century in the UK it shouldn't happen," he said.

"A global corporation, the second biggest employer in the world that makes billions and billions of pounds can't protect its workforce, it's awful. It should be leading and be an example for others, but they're not."

Macrow said there had been complaints across a wide section of the business, including both franchised and company-owned stores.

No franchise agreements have been terminated due to sexual harassment complaints, but Macrow said of the 37 franchisees which had left McDonald's in the past five years, six had underperformed on "people brand standards".

When challenged over the failure of McDonald's to engage with the BFAWU, he said the majority of the chain's young workforce were not members of any trade union.

Macrow added: "These testimonies are truly horrific. It's very hard to listen to, to be in charge of a business where some of these things have occurred in some of our restaurant is something which is very difficult to hear.

"I'm the father of an 18-year-old myself and I can truly understand how anybody would feel if their child was subject to any of these things we've heard today."

Law firm Leigh Day has said it is working on a group legal action against McDonald's and workers may be entitled to compensation if they had been exposed to unsafe work practices.

Parliament's Business and Trade committee will review the evidence shared with MPs and present their conclusions to the government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which signed an anti-harassment agreement with McDonald's in February.

Image: IB Photography / Shutterstock

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