McDonald's has issued an apology to food delivery drivers who were denied access and use of its toilets during lockdown. Following a growing number of complaints from couriers, the Health and Safety Executive reminded restaurants of their legal obligation to give drivers access to "suitable sanitary conveniences".
Along with the burger giant, other fast food chains like KFC, Subway, Nando's and Wagamama were also among those accused of blocking toilet access, the BBC reported.
In a statement, McDonald's said: "We apologise to any courier that has been affected. We are sorry to hear that on some occasions this guidance has not been implemented, and we will be reminding our restaurant teams about the policy."
Takeaway delivery drivers play a crucial role for the survival of the restaurant trade throughout the pandemic. However, the HSE said they have received numerous complaints on restaurants breaching Workplace Regulations of 1992 which also requires them to provide washing facilities for delivery drivers at readily accessible places.
Unite Union national officer Adrian Jones stressed the need for fast food chains and restaurants to heed their legal obligations.
"The restaurant's staff will still be able to use the toilets and food couriers have the same legal rights to use the toilets. McDonald's must end the ban which is endangering the health of the couriers and their customers or the Health and Safety Executive should take immediate action," Jones added.
On the other hand, the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) described McDonald's apology as a welcome step.
A KFC representative said guest toilets have been made available for couriers at all of its outlets.
"We're ensuring all our team members are aware this is the case."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Nando's said it has an existing policy that allows delivery drivers to use the said facilities at all of its restaurants.
"We've reiterated this to all restaurants again this week."
In a joint letter addressed to restaurant chains earlier this month, the HSE and the Department for Transport made these obligations clear :
"Ensuring that hygiene facilities are readily available to visiting drivers is especially important during the current Covid-19 crisis, to avoid unwanted public health implications and to help tackle the spread of the virus."