McDonald's expands employee benefits

by Erica Shaffer
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Steve Easterbrook, CEO, McDonald's
Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald's, said the company's expanded employee benefits are industry leading.

OAK BROOK, Ill. – McDonald's is giving workers at its company-owned stores a wage increase, paid time off and other benefits starting July 1.

Full- and part-time employees with at least one year of service will begin to accrue personal paid time off, the company said. Also, starting wages at company-owned stores in the United States will be a dollar over the local minimum wage. Salaries will be adjusted based on tenure and job performance. By the end of 2016, McDonald's projects an average hourly wage rate of more than $10. The new benefits will affect approximately 90,000 McDonald's employees.

During an appearance on CBS This Morning, Steve Easterbrook, CEO, explained that McDonald's is in a “turnaround situation” and trying to become a “modern and progressive burger company”. Customer service is a main driver of the turnaround, and the company hopes to attract the type of motivated talent that will raise the bar of customer service at its restaurants.

“We are acting with a renewed sense of energy and purpose to turn our business around,” Easterbrook said in a statement about the expanded benefits. “We know that a motivated workforce leads to better customer service so we believe this initial step not only benefits our employees, it will improve the McDonald’s restaurant experience. We'll continue to evaluate opportunities that will make a difference for our people.”

Wages were important, Easterbrook said, but paid time off was the No. 2 priority.

“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,” he said.

But organizers of the Fight For $15 campaign aren't lovin' McDonald's expanded benefits, calling the announcement a publicity stunt. The movement announced demonstrations in 24 cities on April 2 to protest a plan they said benefits only a fraction of individuals who work for McDonald's. The expanded benefits will not apply to nearly 90 percent of McDonald's workers in the United States.

“The workers will criticize the company’s publicity stunt and demand it raise wages to $15 an hour for all workers and respect their right to form a union without retaliation so hard-working cooks and cashiers can support their families,” the organization said in a statement. “The McDonald’s announcement came a day after workers announced they would stage the biggest-ever strike to hit the fast-food industry — a 200-city walkout on April 15.”

Addressing the issue of wages offered by its independently owned franchises, Easterbrook praised McDonald's franchisees as community leaders and experts on the communities in which they operate. “Our franchisees are already smart on this one,” Easterbrook said, adding that many franchisees are already ahead addressing wage and other worker benefit issues.

Benefits that will impact workers in company-owned restaurants and independent franchises include expansion of the company's Archways to Education offerings to include free high school completion, college tuition assistance and more free English language classes for workers who speak English as a second language.

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