McDonald's UK boss summoned to Parliament over allegations of ‘toxic’ workplace culture

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

McDonald's UK boss summoned to Parliament over allegations of ‘toxic’ workplace culture

Related tags McDonald’s QSR Fast food Sexual harassment

McDonald’s UK CEO Alistair Macrow is to face questions from MPs amid growing allegations of a ‘toxic work environment’ in its UK restaurants.

Macrow will appear before the Business and Trade Committee on 14 November.

Back in July​, the BBC​ reported that it had gathered more than 100 allegations of sexual and racial abuse as well as harassment, homophobia and bullying as part of an investigation into workplace conditions at McDonald's.

Yesterday (9 November), the broadcaster revealed that had subsequently received another 160 complaints from the chain’s employees​.

Additionally, the UK equality watchdog said some 200 people had contacted its email hotline, which it set up in the wake of the BBC​'s story.

It said it was ‘concerned’ by the latest allegations of harassment and that it was considering ‘a number of options’ on how to proceed with its existing legal agreement with McDonald's.

Following the BBC​'s investigation, Macrow admitted the business had ‘fallen short’ and pledged to ‘root out’ any behaviour or conduct that fell below the high standards it expects of staff​.

McDonald's is one of the UK's largest private-sector employers with more than 170,000 people working in 1,450 restaurants.

It also has one of the UK's youngest workforces, with three quarters of staff aged 16 to 25.

Law firm Leigh Day says it had been contacted by McDonald's crew members who instructed it to start legal action on their behalf.

“It is clear that the McDonald’s empire relies upon a young and inexperienced workforce, and it is vital that they have a safe place of work,” says Kiran Daurka, partner in the Leigh Day employment team.

“Some of the stories reported by the BBC and some of the stories that we have been told directly of sexual abuse and harassment are disturbing.

“Young crew members, many of whom will be in their first job, are unlikely to know what steps to take when they feel physically or psychologically unsafe at work. It is our view that they have recourse to legal action.”

The BBC ​originally launched its investigation back in February after McDonald’s Restaurants Limited signed the legal agreement with the EHRC in response to concerns about the handling of sexual harassment complaints made by staff in its UK restaurants​.

It followed the publication of a report detailing a ‘toxic culture’ that saw ‘at least 1,000 women abused and predatory employees moved to different stores rather than sacked’.

At the time, Macrow claimed his company had 'a strong track record' in protecting its workforce and that he welcomed the opportunity to work with the EHRC to further strengthen it.

“As one of the UK’s leading employers, the safety and wellbeing of our people is our absolute priority. It is hugely important to me that everyone in our organisation feels safe, respected and included at all times – this is core to the values of our business,” he said at the time.

“We will partner with the EHRC to bolster our best practice training and reporting approaches across our business to ensure that our values are understood, lived and acted upon across our organisation.

“Harassment and abuse have no place in our society or at McDonald’s.”

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