McDonald’s plans to give corporate and company-store workers four hours’ worth of paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the latest big chain to take such a step to encourage inoculations without directly requiring them.
The Chicago-based burger giant, which owns 657 of the chain’s 13,682 U.S. restaurants, will not require workers to get vaccinated but will connect them to third-party experts who can answer questions on the vaccine.
“Vaccination is essential in the fight against the pandemic, and we are actively encouraging McDonald’s employees to take this important step,” Tiffanie Boyd, U.S. chief people officer for the company, said in a statement. “We will provide four hours of paid time to crew at McDonald’s U.S. corporate-owned restaurants and to U.S. corporate employees who receive the vaccine.
“Ensuring widespread availability and access to the vaccine will require extraordinary partnerships between businesses, governments and community health organizations, and we’re engaging with government officials and our partners to understand where McDonald’s can further support this work.”
McDonald’s joins Darden Restaurants, the owner of Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, in giving workers paid time off to get the vaccine. The Orlando-based Darden said earlier this week that it would give employees time off.
McDonald’s decision does not affect franchisees, which operate the bulk of the chain’s restaurants and are responsible for their workforces.
Still, the moves by the country’s largest fast-food chain and its largest casual dining operator could well push the entire industry into this direction. Restaurants have been uncertain how to approach vaccinating their workers—federal regulators give them the right to require such vaccinations, but most operators appear reticent to take such a step.
Instead, they appear to be “strongly encouraging” vaccinations while giving them time to take that step, theorizing that each of the two shots required for inoculation take two hours.