Hampson Hughes Solicitors has warned fast food chains, such as McDonalds, of a possible influx in employees seeking legal action in relation to work related injuries, after recent reports of poor working conditions at their restaurants.
On 4 September, workers from two McDonald’s outlets in Cambridge and Crayford went on strike in the first every UK strike by employees of the world’s largest fast food chain. The strike action was taken after a union ballot over concerns about poor working conditions, low pay, and zero hours contracts.
Two unnamed McDonald’s workers have also appeared in a video created by Momentum, the grassroots political organisation, which was released on social media the day after the strike took place. The video includes the two workers describing and showing images of burns and injuries apparently gained while working at McDonald’s, which they say cannot be avoided when carrying out their normal duties, as no protective equipment is provided by their employer. One worker also claims that she has been given wrong, and potentially dangerous, information from supposedly first-aid trained McDonald’s shift managers on treating a burn she received at work. This, she alleges, was to ensure that she was able to continue her shift immediately, instead of taking time to treat the injury correctly.
Patrick Mallon, a solicitor and head of department (Accidents at Work) at the North West-based personal injury claims firm, said: “These stories are deeply worrying; and judging by the response on social media, there are potentially hundreds of other staff members who have experienced similar avoidable injuries in fast food restaurants across the UK, which is completely unacceptable.
“We believe that major food outlets should be setting an example to others, rather than taking advantage of staff who are too frightened to speak out. Equally concerning are the stories about staff being given incorrect medical advice, by supposedly medically trained managers, after being injured at work, which can result in long-term, or even permanent damage.”
Mallon added that the firm believed that the strike action was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
“We believe it’s only a matter of time before more fast food outlet employees start to speak out about the poor conditions they work under, and we think that legal action from staff who have been injured at work because of employer negligence could quickly follow.
“This should be a warning to all employers in this industry; employees should not, and will not, allow themselves to be silenced from speaking out and taking action when their working conditions do not keep them safe.”