McDonald’s prepares for federal vaccine mandate

McDonalds vaccine mandate

Company tracks down Covid-19 tests that are an alternative to shots

McDonald’s has been a big booster (pardon the pun) of vaccinations for Covid-19. For instance, some franchisees have offered financial incentives to employees and others have held vaccination clinics. And now, in advance of the federal mandate for workers at large companies being required to get the jab, the company is tracking down Covid-19 test kits for unvaccinated employees at its franchises, according to a report in

President Joe Biden announced the mandate, which applies to companies with 100 or more workers, on Sept. 9. It was expected to take effect about 2½ months later, or about seven weeks from now.  

The mandate’s rules have not been disclosed, and it’s possible that individual franchises will be exempt if they are treated as small businesses as they were under federal pandemic relief programs.  McDonald’s averages about 50 employees per location, with franchisees operating about seven locations apiece, according to That creates a worrisome gray area for many franchisees.

If franchise employees are covered by the federal vaccine mandate, they would pile onto what might be a coast-to-coast rush for self-test kits because weekly testing of employees is an alternative to vaccination. So McDonald’s wants to make sure it’s in compliance and operating smoothly when the mandate takes effect. 

Of course, franchisees see the value – huge value, really – of having employees fully vaccinated with the free shots. Test kits cost about $10 each, and franchisees must pay for them. If half of a typical restaurant’s employees are unvaccinated, that would mean a store would spend $250 a week for the tests.

Employees often remain unconvinced, however. One McDonald’s franchisee pays $100 bonuses to workers who get vaccinated but many still opt out, according to There is one particularly revealing statistic behind who’s getting the vaccine and who isn’t: Only about half of the nation’s 18- to 24-year-olds are vaccinated. And no surprise: Many of McDonald’s workers are in that age bracket. 

Finding the test kits and paying bonuses for vaccinations are just two of the many tactics in McDonald’s war on Covid-19, which has included rolling out initiatives steadily since last spring when the vaccines became widely available. Although most efforts have been directed toward employees, company leadership has emphasized the importance of safeguarding its customers as well as its employees via vaccination.

In mid-August, McDonald’s Corp. announced the requirement that its corporate employees be vaccinated before its offices reopen on Oct. 11, according to Staffers must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 27 to build up immunity for the recommended 14 days before returning, the company said. Masks are required in company offices regardless of vaccination status.

The vaccination requirement also affects suppliers and contractors who visit corporate offices, but it doesn’t extend to restaurant workers. The company didn’t say what repercussions corporate workers would face if they remain unvaccinated. 

In June, a regional effort took place. More than 70 Northern California McDonald’s held pop-up vaccination clinics to make vaccinations uber convenient. As an added nudge, customers received a coupon for one free menu item. 

And back in May, McDonald’s launched an education campaign about the vaccine. Its packaging included publicizing to help customers easily find a clinic giving the shots. 

Previous ArticleNext Article
Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
Send this to a friend