Respectful Workplaces

Why It Matters

McDonald’s and our Franchisees are committed to creating and fostering environments where everyone is equally supported and empowered to realize their full potential. Upholding human rights and cultivating respectful workplaces builds trust, protects the integrity of our brand and fuels our success. This is the right way to do business.


The basis of our entire business is that we are ethical, truthful and dependable.
These words are as relevant today as they were when spoken by McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, in 1958.


We're passionate about people and are committed to prioritizing safety, providing opportunity, nurturing talent, developing leaders and rewarding achievement in our offices, owned restaurants and communities around the world, and supporting our Franchisees to do the same.

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Our Strategy

McDonald’s has always been a people business. Fostering safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces wherever we do business has been integral to McDonald’s for over 60 years and we will continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards. 

Our commitment to respect our people and their rights is defined in our Human Rights Policy (PDF – 91kb) (“Policy”), which applies to McDonald’s Corporation and our wholly owned subsidiaries worldwide. The Policy is signed by our Chief Executive Officer.

Our Policy is informed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guided by internationally recognized standards, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Bill of Human Rights and the principles set out in the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Where the Company may impact the human rights of diverse and particularly vulnerable groups, such as migrant laborers, indigenous peoples, women or children, we are also guided by other international standards that elaborate on their rights. 

Our commitment to respect human rights is also set out in our Standards of Business Conduct (PDF – 9.1kb) (“Standards”), which apply to Company employees, and in our Supplier Code of Conduct (PDF – 1.4kb) (“Code”), which applies to McDonald’s suppliers globally. Company staff are trained regularly on the Standards and are required to annually certify their understanding of and commitment to upholding them.

People come to work at a McDonald’s because they want the chance to be a part of a community and grow as individuals. Our job as employers is to make that possible while fostering an environment where those ambitions are never compromised by concerns of safety. As Franchisees, we’re developing comprehensive programs centered on building healthy relationships, trusting environments and resolving conflict to support our people in all facets of their lives – at work, at home and out in their communities.

Dorothy Stingley, President of McDonald’s Women Operators Network, franchise owner and 36-year veteran of the McDonald’s business


Putting Our Commitments Into Practice

In 2018, we created a global cross-functional Human Rights Working Group, which oversees implementation of the Policy and improves our procedures and practices. McDonald’s Chief People Officer is ultimately responsible for our corporate human rights efforts, while the Public Policy & Strategy Committee of the Board of Directors also has oversight of human capital management matters affecting the Company.

To help employees understand their rights and their duty to respect the rights of others, the Company provides training to all employees on the Policy. Both our Policy and training are available in 15 languages. 

In addition to the online training, in 2019 senior leadership received in-person training in partnership with an external human rights consultancy. Company staff are also trained regularly on the Standards and are required to annually certify their understanding of and commitment to upholding them.

Enhancing and Evolving Workplace Policies and Standards

We recognize that developing respectful workplaces, where everyone’s rights are recognized, is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and improvement. We are committed to regularly assessing our practices and approach, and engaging with relevant stakeholders where appropriate, to improve our monitoring, analysis and remediation of human rights impacts in order to be more transparent and effective in supporting people.

We know we have more work to do. In January 2019, we worked with third-party experts to strengthen our U.S. discrimination, harassment and retaliation policy and enhanced training for U.S. staff and Company-owned restaurant employees – with the aim of providing a more employee-centered approach. 

Ensuring Fair Reporting Processes

We take seriously our responsibility to act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address any human rights impacts should they occur. This includes encouraging open and honest communication with managers and human resource representatives, when appropriate, and as well as providing anonymous channels for employees to report ethics or human rights concerns. Company employees can raise concerns via an anonymous global channel, the Business Integrity Line – staffed by a live operator from an independent company – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is complemented by additional reporting channels in many markets.

We take seriously all concerns that are raised. We will not impede state-based grievance processes via our employee system and we do not require employees to waive their right to use such external mechanisms to participate in our hotline. We do not tolerate retaliation of any kind against anyone who reports an issue and do not tolerate unlawful threats, intimidation, physical or legal attacks against human rights defenders. We provide access to remediation and encourage our business partners to do the same, and recognize that this commitment should not obstruct access to other remedies.

Each of our internationally owned markets has HR staff that are responsible for handling concerns in an appropriate and timely manner. This process may include investigating complaints, interviewing witnesses, reviewing documentation and determining next steps. 

For example, in the U.S. market, there are several reporting mechanisms available. Company-owned restaurant employees may report concerns or complaints to their restaurant’s General Manager or Ops consultant, HR Consulting or HR manager, or the Business Integrity Line. We also provide Company-owned restaurant employees with third-party Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) such as the McResource Line and the Employee Resource Connection. These EAPs offer services such as counseling, referrals and other support, and they are free and confidential.

Additionally, in the U.S. market, the Company offers Franchisees a third-party managed hotline for reporting complaints of any kind. This hotline supplements what Franchisees already offer in their organizations and provide callers with an anonymous way to file a report with their Franchisee. We encourage Franchisees to implement a shared values commitment to workplace safety that includes a mutual understanding and acknowledgment of everyone's responsibility in ensuring a safe, healthy and respectful environment.

Preventing Forced Labor

McDonald’s is committed to ethical recruitment in our employment practices. We prohibit direct or indirect fees or costs being charged to those seeking employment with or who are employed by the Company for the services directly related to recruitment for temporary or permanent job placement, unless legally permissible and within the legal limit. This includes where we may use private recruitment services, a labor broker or employment agent, or where we perform recruitment activities directly. 

Even where such fees or costs are legally permissible and within the legal limit, our policies and practices are designed to ensure that no one is indebted to the Company or to a recruiter, labor broker or employment agent in a manner that prohibits the individual from freely leaving his or her employment. Likewise, we do not retain employees’ original government-issued identification, passport or work permit as a condition of employment.1

The Company provides any agreements, whether oral or in writing, in a language understood by the person agreeing to be bound and expects that any recruiter, labor broker or employment agent will do the same and will be responsible for ensuring that the agreement is understood by the person agreeing to be bound.

We do not engage in human trafficking or exploitation, or import goods tainted by slavery or human trafficking. The Company is committed to the elimination of any forced labor in our business and our supply chain. The McDonald’s Code applies to our suppliers and is aligned with these goals and standards.

We are also committed to preventing forced labor and support the goals of the UK and Australian Modern Slavery Acts. McDonald’s UK published its first UK Modern Slavery Act statement in 2017. The Company does not use any form of slave, forced, bonded, indentured or involuntary prison labor.

Maintaining Respectful and Inclusive Contractual Practices

The Company is committed to diversity, equal opportunity and an inclusive workplace culture. This commitment is fundamental to the way we do business and we embed it in our policies and practices. We further recognize that maintaining our commitment will require ongoing reflection on and evolution of these policies and practices. In this regard, we are also providing greater transparency regarding our approach to certain contractual arrangements we may enter into with Company employees based in the United States. Specifically, arbitration, noncompetition and nondisclosure covenants have come under public scrutiny where their overbroad application may result in inequities. With this in mind, we limit our use of such agreements as follows:

  • We do not and will not, as a condition of employment, require mandatory arbitration of harassment and discrimination claims.

  • While leadership within the officer level, representing less than 10% of the employee population in 2019, sign noncompetition covenants, we do not require as a condition of employment any employee below the officer level to sign post-termination, noncompetition covenants, except in very limited situations as authorized by the General Counsel for an employee who has unique skills, knowledge or access to intellectual property, trade secrets or highly confidential customer information that would provide a competitor with an advantage (e.g., complex knowledge regarding menu innovation or critical technology applications or systems).

  • In the event that McDonald’s seeks a nondisclosure covenant in connection with the settlement of a harassment or discrimination claim brought by an employee or former employee against an officer of McDonald’s Corporation, we will provide notice of such arrangement to the Board of Directors to ensure the Board has appropriate oversight.

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Through our efforts to create respectful workplaces, we aim to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, in particular:

Our Actions

Identifying, Preventing and Addressing Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation in the U.S.

In January 2019, we enhanced our discrimination, harassment and retaliation policy (PDF – 513kb) for U.S. staff and Company-owned restaurant employees, with the aim of providing a more employee-centered approach. Informed by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, the policy contains clear language on workplace conduct, manager responsibilities, employee resources and the investigation process. The policy applies to all U.S. Company staff and Company-owned restaurant employees and is a part of our larger global human rights commitment. The policy has been shared with the nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants in the McDonald’s system. We have encouraged our Owner/Operators to use this policy, along with other resources, to continue to foster a safe and respectful work environment for their employees.

By strengthening this policy, creating interactive training, launching a third-party managed anonymous hotline for Franchisees and listening to employees across the U.S. market, we show our commitment to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected. Most importantly, we are changing to meet the needs of our workforce and the communities where we live and operate.

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