McDonald’s Raises Wages at Company-Owned Stores—But Is It Enough?

By Frazer Jones
Big news came from McDonalds yesterday: the chain announced a new benefits package for all employees at company-owned stores, a package that will go int...

Big news came from McDonald’s yesterday: the chain announced a new benefits package for all employees at company-owned stores, a package that will go into effect July 1 and is set to include education assistance and paid time off for all employees averaging more than 20 hours per week. Even bigger news is that the benefits package also comes with a wage increase of $1 over locally mandated minimum wage. According to McDonald’s, this is just the beginning—the burger chain “projects that the average hourly wage rate for McDonald's employees at company-owned restaurants will be in excess of $10” by the end of 2016.

"We've been working on a comprehensive benefits package for our employees -- the people who bring our brand to life for customers every day in our U.S. restaurants," said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's newly minted President and CEO, on a roll building good will that started in March with the chain’s commitment to phasing antibiotics out of its poultry. "We've listened to our employees and learned that—in addition to increased wages—paid personal leave and financial assistance for completing their education would make a real difference in their careers and lives."

Big news from McDonald’s on April 1 could have turned out to be an April Fools’ Day prank (if not by McDonald’s itself, then by one of its critics), but the press release confirms that this is the real deal coming all the way from the top. Nevertheless, the announcement has still left some critics frustrated and feeling that McDonald’s new goals are more of a joke than a sign of progress.

This feeling lies in the fact that the wage and paid time off changes only affect the 90,000 employees at McDonald’s company-owned stores—representing only about 10 percent of the chain’s employees overall. For the remaining 90 percent of employees at franchised locations, conditions will remain the same.

McDonald’s explains this disparity as a part of the franchising system, which grants individual franchise owners the right to do what they want with their portions of the business. “The more than 3,100 McDonald's franchisees operate their individual businesses and make their own decisions on pay and benefits for their employees,” reads the press release.

According to activists fighting for better conditions in the fast food industry, that’s not quite a satisfying answer:

The organizers of the Fight for $15 campaign emphasize McDonald's latest move is not enough, and that there is still a strong need to go ahead with the planned global strike by fast food workers on April 15. Kendall Fells — the campaign's organizing director — tells Bloomberg that "there's still millions of families in poverty due to McDonald's not raising [hourly salaries] to $15." Fells continues, "We're going to show McDonald's this movement won't stop until we get what we deserve."


Friction between fast food chains and fast food workers is at an all time high, with the biggest minimum wage strike yet in the works for April 15. Could McDonald’s latest move be a bid to get into the good graces of activists and avoid being the target of such protests? If so, it’s looking like it’s going to take a lot more to quell the growing storm than an extra dollar for 10 percent.



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