Claims of abuse among McDonalds employees leaves the Business & Trade committee not ‘lovin’ it
Chelsey Stanborough – 7 August 2023
According to the chair of the Business and Trade Committee, claims of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying in the fast-food chain McDonalds are on the rise. Back in February, the BBC launched an investigation with the Equality and Human Rights Commission that prompted 100 allegations involving workers as young as 17 being subjected to groping and harassment regularly. A spokesperson for McDonalds was quick to apologise for the findings, and highlighted the company’s People Brand Standards, which were put in place to ensure that restaurants across the UK would create a safe and inclusive workplace through training and mentoring. But with many of the allegations directed at McDonalds management, it’s likely to bring little comfort.
McDonalds employees more than 170,000 workers across 1,450 restaurants in the UK, making them one of the largest private sector employers. However, the company uses a franchise system to employ the majority of its staff, which includes a right to termination if there is a breach of UK law. The Business and Trade Committee are eager to see large companies like McDonalds face consequences where they break the law. MP Darren Jones has suggested that McDonalds should terminate the agreement with their franchise if they are unable to address the many claims of human rights breaches in their newly signed EHRC agreement.
So, what would such a step involve? If McDonalds were to move forward with this, they would be required to serve franchisees a Breach Notice, which would outline the breach and how they propose to remedy it (and in what time frame). If this isn’t met, McDonalds would then be able to terminate the Franchise agreement. Whilst there is no legislation regarding franchising in the UK, aspects of contract, intellectual property, real estate and competition laws do apply to franchising. So keep your eyes peeled.