McDonald’s owners offer child care, tuition to draw workers amid shortage

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McDonald’s owners will offer emergency child-care benefits, tuition help and other perks to employees as the fast-food behemoth looks to lure workers amid the nationwide labor shortage.

The chain’s US franchisees are also planning to raise hourly pay and offer more paid time off to attract new workers, retain existing ones and improve the company’s image as an employer, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an internal presentation from the company.

Franchisees own about 95 percent of the burger giant’s roughly 13,450 stores in the US, but the corporate parent said it will make a multimillion-dollar investment to support the efforts, according to the Journal.

McDonald’s, with its nearly 800,000 US employees, is one of the largest private employers in the country.

The Journal reported that franchisees began last year evaluating the pay and benefits that operators currently provide workers.

More than 5,000 McDonald’s workers and managers were surveyed about what kind of compensation changes they’d like to see, according to the report.

After holding discussions throughout the year, franchisees last month agreed to help increase training, job flexibility, pay and benefits, according to the Journal.

Now, restaurants are moving ahead with adopting the plan, the report said, with the hope to “fundamentally change what it means to work at a McDonald’s restaurant.”

The news comes as companies nationwide, and especially restaurants and the retail industry, face a shortage of workers that’s holding back businesses just as consumers emerge from the pandemic.

The US added 850,000 jobs last month — more than economists had expected — with restaurants and bars seeing some of the biggest gains, picking up 194,000 new workers in the month.

Still, the industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic and the recent job gains come after lower-than-expected hirings for the sector in the spring and so far this summer.

Many economists have said they’re not yet concerned about the economic recovery, predicting that job gains have just been pushed off later into the summer rather than the spring as initially expected.

But others have said the pandemic may have fundamentally restructured the US labor market and many of those who left work over the past 18 months don’t plan to return to their old jobs.

Economists have otherwise attributed the sluggish labor market recovery to three factors: fear of COVID-19, child-care concerns and pandemic-boosted federal unemployment benefits.

Many business owners, Republicans and economists have said the federal unemployment payout adds up to more than what businesses can afford to pay workers.

The White House has defended the extra benefits, saying that businesses should pay people more.

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