Skip to content

9 Strict Rules at McDonald's That Could Get Workers Fired

You don’t get to 38,000 locations without some rules in place.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

There are 38,000 locations in over 100 countries—that's the striking number of McDonald's restaurants you'll find worldwide right now, according to the fast-food giant's corporate site. That number may be an estimate, but it speaks to the undeniable fact that McDonald's is a nearly unmatched business success story that continues to dominate the fast food market.

One way McDonald's successfully operates such a widely beloved fast food chain is by selling food with a reliable taste at a low price. Another way is by keeping employees on a pretty tight leash. We did some sleuthing and found these nine very strict rules McDonald's workers must follow. A few of them make you wonder just what happened behind that counter or drive-thru window and saw these regulations as necessary additions to the policy books…

8 Strict Rules That Have Gotten Chick-fil-A Workers Fired

Tips don't go to employees, they go to Ronald

mcdonalds charity
Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Tips aren't often given to workers at McDonald's, however, any donations must immediately get put into the Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC) box at the register. Employees are expected to honor this rule, because as the corporate website puts it, "McDonald's restaurants have a team environment which is not about rewarding individuals." In addition to sticking to an equality-based business model, the RMHC serves to help sick children around the world and their families, which may be why the company would rather a customer's extra change or generosity go towards such an endearing cause.

No free good handouts. Ever


With an extremely limited number of exceptions, McDonald's workers are strictly prohibited from giving away free food. No ice cream cone for a kid. No coffee for a cop. No freebies, period, unless you want to risk termination for having effectively stolen from the restaurant. It was a refreshing departure when McDonald's OK'd some food giveaways to healthcare workers in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sandwiches must be prepared in a specific order

burgers and mcdonalds employee

McDonald's sandwiches like the Big Mac or McDouble are essentially scientifically designed, with everything from ingredient type and even to order of assembly tested and locked in. And according to Mental Floss, any employee who does not follow the exact assembly steps of a McDonald's menu item risks termination for doing so.

No Monopoly for McDonald's workers

mcdonalds monopoly
McDonald's / Facebook

Per a Reddit conversation, as well as various other sources, McDonald's employees are strictly prohibited from playing the popular McDonald's Monopoly game. And in fact, in some cases, their close family members are not supposed to play, either.

Frequent handwashing is mandatory

Washing hands with soap

You know those signs in restaurant (and other) bathrooms that say: "Employees must wash hands before returning to work," right? Well, those are indeed enforced policies. But it goes even beyond that, per Salon: in many McDonald's locations, managers mandate that every employee washes his or her hands every 30 minutes or face discipline or even termination.

Ronald McDonald is bound by myriad rules

ronald mcdonald
McDonald's / Facebook

For starters, McDonald's workers may only refer to the iconic, off-putting clown mascot as Ronald McDonald (that means no nicknames like "Ronnie!").  As for the person playing the clown himself, that gent is bound by a number of strict rules, including agreeing never to reveal his true identity, to protect company secrets indefinitely even after separation, and to reply to customers using a set script, according to Reader's Digest. Along with keeping up a stellar reputation for the worldwide chain, Ronald McDonald has a special code of conduct that doesn't allow the mascot to appear in any venue that is not consistent with his core personality—which specifically includes no nightclubs or lounges—Business Insider reports.

Improper portion sizes can lead to firing

mcdonalds employees
Marcin Kadziolka / Shutterstock

According to a former McDonald's employee, if a worker is off with the measurements of volume items like french fries or milkshakes, they can be terminated. With milkshakes, the commenter cited a very strict window of just plus or minus 0.25 ounces leading to a shake considered unacceptable, and a few unacceptable shakes (or over- or under-loaded containers of fries) could do it.

Black pants and shiny black shoes

mcdonalds workers

McDonald's provides its worker with most of their uniform, including a shirt, hat (or visor), an apron, and a name tag. But when it comes to pants and shoes, the worker must supply these, and they must meet very strict criteria. Via Zippia, pants must be black and can't be denim, sweats, or leggings. Shoes must be nonslip, black, and able to be polished, meaning leather or faux leather material.

 McDonald's Shows Fans Its Rarest, Weirdest Memorabilia Ever—Including Every Happy Meal Toy Ever Produced

Yes, you have to work on Christmas


And on other holidays, too. Per an article on Medium, if a McDonald's worker is employed by a location that will be open on a given holiday, he or she may have no real recourse to avoid a scheduled shift on that day unless they can prove an extraordinary need for an exemption—merely saying you celebrate Christmas won't get you off on December 25th, in other words.

A version of this story was originally published on October 21, 2022. It has been updated to include new information.

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven