McDonald’s pledges action on sexual harassment

McDonald’s has signed an agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to take a series of actions against sexual harassment at its restaurants.

Women's hand is stopping harassment


McDonald’s has signed a legal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission [EHRC] in response to concerns about the handling of sexual harassment complaints made by staff in its UK restaurants.

Under the legal agreement with the EHRC (known as a section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006), McDonald’s has committed to a number of actions around sexual harassment, including communicating a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment,  conducting an anonymous survey of workers about workplace safety, enhancing policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment and improve responses to complaints and delivering anti-harassment training for employees as well as monitoring progress towards a safe, respectful and inclusive working environment.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are legally responsible if an employee is sexually harassed at work by another employee and the employer has not taken all steps they could to prevent it from happening. In the Worker Protection Bill, Parliament is currently considering placing a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “There should be zero tolerance of sexual harassment in every organisation. It can devastate people’s lives and create a toxic working environment for all.

“Every employer, no matter how big or small, is responsible for protecting its workforce. We work with all companies to help them do this. We are determined to crack down on workplace cultures of sexual harassment, whether in restaurants or hotels, sports clubs or offices.

“We are pleased that McDonald’s has signed this agreement to signal their intent to make their restaurants safe places to work. The improvements they put in place can set an example for others to follow, whether in the hospitality industry or elsewhere.”

Alistair Macrow, Chief Executive Officer, McDonald’s Restaurants Limited in UK and Ireland said: “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.

“We already have a strong track record in this area and I now welcome the opportunity to work with the EHRC to further strengthen this. 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.”

Meanwhile, an inquiry has concluded that women working at the TSSA transport union were subjected to sexual harassment and coercive and manipulative behaviour over many years. The report, led by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, has urged sweeping changes to restore the union’s reputation and protect that of the broader trade union movement, and called for a tight-knit group of four senior figures to leave the organisation, saying they had “enabled [sexist] behaviours through wilful blindness, power hoarding and poor practices.” Kennedy wrote: “There appears to be a failing in leadership and a failing in culture. [The TSSA’s] finances, I understand, are in a poor state and its membership has declined. I conclude that the internal leadership at the TSSA is not fit for purpose.” The TSSA said it accepted all the report’s recommendations.

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