McDonald’s to bolster free child care, paid tuition to entice workers

McDonald’s plans to upgrade its benefits and offer new varieties of incentives to attract and keep employees — including free child care and paid college tuition — through the company’s Employee Value Proposition program, according to an emailed statement from the company. 

In an effort to bounce back after a tumultuous year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the fast-food franchise is partnering with independent owners and operators of McDonald’s restaurants through EVP which will offer "new optional programs, tools and resources" that will "support restaurant crew members and managers, based on needs in their local markets." 

"We face an especially challenging hiring environment right now, and staying ahead means we must constantly renew our commitment to offer one of the leading employment packages in the industry," a McDonald’s spokesperson told FOX TV Stations. 

As part of the company’s U.S. people ambition strategy, EVP will assist owners and operators of the franchised restaurants to focus on training and growth, flexibility, community and family, and pay and benefits, according to an emailed statement from McDonald’s. 

McDonalds restaurant

McDonald’s restaurant at Ohio State University.

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The company plans to invest millions into programs that already exist such as Archways to Opportunity, which provides employees with paid tuition for higher learning, and new programs such as an Emergency Backup Care pilot, which will provide working parents with free day care. The Emergency Backup Care pilot program will launch this summer, according to the company. 

"Our Employee Value Proposition was born from crew member, manager and franchisee feedback at the local level, and that partnership will be critical as we work to grow and expand this work across the McDonald’s System. I’m thrilled that Owner/Operators aren’t just embracing the EVP – they’re really making it their own, introducing plus-ups to our national programs that resonate with the needs and wants of their employees locally," Tiffanie Boyd, McDonald’s chief people officer, said. 

To further entice new and current employees, the company announced in May that entry-level workers will get at least $11 to $17 an hour, and the starting range for shift managers will be at least $15 to $20 an hour, based on the restaurant’s location. 

"These raises build on competitive benefits package offered to eligible employees in McDonald’s-owned restaurants, including paid time off, access to education, employee assistance, a 401K plan and other rewards programs," according to the company. 

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The restaurant and service industry took a major hit at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdowns forcing businesses to shut down prompting people to search for work elsewhere. 

Even as millions become vaccinated and cases decrease, it could take years before the service industry gets back to pre-pandemic conditions, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The National Restaurant Association has reported the eating and drinking industry shed 2.5 million jobs in 2020. Federal data show nearly 1.4 million job openings in the restaurant and hotel sector in April. 

Restaurants and hotels have been "ground zero" for the labor shortage, but other sectors have been struggling to fill jobs, including non-union construction and home health care, said Michael Bernick, a former director of the California Employment Development Department and an attorney with the Duane Morris law firm. 

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For ailing restaurants, a turning point may not come until late summer, when enhanced federal benefits end and schools reopen. Even then, wages might need to rise to attract workers. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.