McDonald's delays return to work for office workers, will require vaccination

Key Points
  • McDonald's global chief people officer Heidi Capozzi wrote in an internal note obtained by CNBC that state and local governments asked the company to require vaccinations.
  • The vaccine mandate doesn't apply to McDonald's restaurant-level workers.

In this article

People wear protective face masks outside McDonald's in Union Square as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on July 30, 2020 in New York City.
Noam Galai | Getty Images

McDonald's on Wednesday told its corporate workforce that it is pushing back the reopening of its offices by more than a month and requiring staff to be fully vaccinated.

The fast-food giant joins a number of other employers, including Coca-Cola and Amazon, in delaying their return to the office or requiring their workers to be fully vaccinated, as concerns over the highly contagious delta variant grow. Earlier on Wednesday, the New York Stock Exchange announced it would require traders to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 13 to access the trading floor. While it is possible for inoculated people to get Covid-19, breakthrough cases are extremely rare, and the primary risk is with unvaccinated populations.

McDonald's is pushing back its reopening date from Sept. 7 to Oct. 11 to allow its U.S. corporate workforce to get vaccinated and build up their immunity. Those workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 27. They will be able to request exemption for medical or religious reasons.

"Since the Town Hall, we've heard from many of you that you would feel more comfortable returning to the office if you had more certainty your colleagues were vaccinated," McDonald's global chief people officer Heidi Capozzi said in an internal note obtained by CNBC. "We are also being asked by state and local governments to require vaccinations for corporate employees because getting more of the population vaccinated reduces our own chances of being infected and contributes to community protection."

However, like Walmart, the vaccine mandate only applies to McDonald's office employees, not restaurant-level workers that are operated by the company or franchisees. Restaurants and retailers have been struggling to find enough willing workers to staff their locations, and employers fear that vaccine mandates could alienate potential applicants or cause some existing workers to quit.

Masks are required inside McDonald's offices right now, regardless of vaccine status.

"Ultimately, by requiring vaccinations for US-based staff, we hope to be able to make masks optional in the future," Capozzi said.

The company recently amended its guidance to U.S. restaurants to require all customers and restaurant workers in countries with high transmission rates to wear masks.

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