CHICAGO - The major fast-food chain McDonald’s will soon require all corporate employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination prior to returning to the workplace.
"Getting vaccinated remains the single most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves and our communities, which is why McDonald’s is sharing with US staff employees today that all US-based office staff will be required to be vaccinated," an internal note obtained by FOX Television Stations said.
The policy does not apply to franchised restaurants.
In a message Wednesday to all U.S.-based employees, Global Chief People Officer Heidi Capozzi said the company has decided to "transition from strongly encouraging vaccinations to requiring vaccinations for all US-based staff," citing close consultation with its partners at Mayo Clinic and guidance from public health officials in making the decision.
"While we are eager to safely welcome teams back to our offices, we are committed to putting people first, providing a safe work environment and always finding ways to get better together," Capozzi wrote in the note. "Over the last few weeks, however, a resurgence of infections caused by COVID-19 variants has many of us uneasy. 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."
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McDonald’s will extend the official office re-opening date more than one month from Sept. 7 to Oct. 11 to give everyone the opportunity to become fully vaccinated. Employees who are already fully vaccinated are welcome, and encouraged, to still return to the office on Tuesday, September 7.
The company conglomerate said the decision builds on steps it has taken during the pandemic to drive vaccination uptake and education.
In May, McDonald’s partnered with the Biden Administration to make access to information on vaccines easier by placing independent information on COVID-19 vaccines on its hot McCafe coffee cups and McDelivery stickers.
In January, the company also announced that managers and crew at corporate-owned U.S. restaurants and U.S. corporate employees would receive up to four hours of paid time to receive the vaccine.
"We know this is a complex situation and appreciate all you have done to stay safe and to support our people and business over the course of this pandemic," Capozzi continued. "We continue to closely monitor the data, science and public health guidance so we can adjust our approach for offices and restaurants as needed."
In the meantime, the letter said masks will be required inside McDonald’s offices regardless of vaccination status, but hopes to be able to "make masks optional in the future" by requiring the shots.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.