McDonald’s was grilled in parliament over the ‘toxic culture’ of its restaurants (Picture: Getty)
Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, was grilled by MPs today after an investigation revealed a ‘toxic culture’ at its restaurants.
Amongst the findings were claims that workers as young as 17 had complained of being groped and harassed by staff almost routinely.
It comes after a raft of sexual abuse, racism and bullying claims from workers were made in July, following a BBC investigation.
McDonald’s UK boss Alistair Macrow apologised ‘unreservedly’ to those who had suffered abuse and harrassment (Picture: PA)
McDonald’s said it has now sacked 18 workers as a result.
The chief executive told Parliament’s business and trade select committee that he offered an ‘unreserved apology’ to anyone who had suffered abuse or harassment under his watch and said their testimonies had been ‘truly horrific and hard to listen to’.
Earlier this month, law firm Leigh Day said a group legal action had been launched on behalf of a number of employees in relation to assault and harassment allegations.
It said it is still looking into 279 other reports relating to safety and inclusivity in the workplace.
On Tuesday, the boss said 157 reports have already been fully investigated, with 75 resulting in disciplinary action, including a number of sackings.
So far, it has seen 17 confirmed reports of sexual harassment and is looking into 27 further sexual harassment allegations.
Mr Macrow said: ‘We typically would see between 20 and 25 contacts per week, of which one or two are sexual harassment across the organisation.’
The fast-food giant receives ‘one or two’ sexual abuse claims every week (Picture: Shutterstock)
In the summer, McDonald’s launched a programme of independent investigations, audits of its complaints procedure, reviews of its code of conduct and a number of full disciplinary hearings in response to the raft of claims.
The boss added: ‘To be in charge of the business when these incidents are occurring is very hard to hear.
‘I am absolutely determined to root out any of these behaviours, to identify individuals who are responsible for them and make sure they are eradicated from our business.’
He stressed however that he does not see abuse and sexual harassment at the business as ‘an endemic cultural issue’.
Earlier in the committee session, union bosses said the situation has not improved for workers since McDonald’s launched its investigations.
Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, told MPs: ‘The feedback we are getting is that nothing has changed.
‘There is a tick-box system that has been put in play, a video about how things are supposed to happen.
‘We really welcome the involvement of EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) but what was really lacking is the workers’ involvement in that process.’
Unions also claimed that McDonald’s has a history of using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in response to allegations.
Mr Macrow rejected these claims but admitted to including ‘confidentiality clauses’ where workers leave the company with a settlement agreement.
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McDonald’s UK boss ‘apologised unreservedly’ to victims.