McDonald’s hires 14-year-olds in Oregon due to labor shortage

The sign outside the Biddle Road branch of McDonald’s in Medford

A branch of McDonald’s in Oregon, US, is calling on 14 and 15-year-olds to apply for restaurant jobs amid a shortage of fast-food workers.

The Biddle Road franchise in Medford placed a banner outside its store two weeks ago, urging young workers to apply.

According to some information, the number of applications has increased since the creation of the offer, which is in line with labor legislation.

It comes as fast food restaurants and other outlets across the United States struggle to fill vacancies despite the easing of restrictions.

Heather Kennedy, operator of the Medford restaurant, told Business Insider US that such staff shortages were “unheard of” in her family’s 40-year history of operating McDonald’s franchises.

Initially, she tried to attract more workers by raising the restaurant’s minimum wage to $ 15 (£ 10.50), but did not generate enough interest.

However, Ms Kennedy said she had received more than 25 new applications since opening her doors to under-16s.

McDonald’s declined to comment on the decision, but told the BBC he shared best hiring practices with all of his franchisees.

He added that franchisees have a range of measures to tackle staff shortages, including better pay, connection bonuses and new benefits such as back-up childcare.

McDonald’s also recently announced that it would increase hourly wages to an average of $ 15 an hour at company-owned restaurants across the country.

It’s not the first fast food chain to ask young workers to fill the staffing gap.

Burger King and Wendy’s branches recently installed similar signs. And according to reports, Texas chain Layne’s Chicken Fingers is promoting teenage workers and their early twenties to managerial positions, amid a lack of more experienced recruits.

Labor laws in the United States vary from state to state, but in Oregon, people 14 years of age and older are allowed to work in non-hazardous jobs such as catering, as long as their hours are limited to adapt to schooling and that they benefit from adequate breaks.

However, this appears to be rare – the average age of a McDonald’s employee in the United States is 27, according to a study by the employment website Zippia.

There is currently a severe labor shortage in the United States as fear of Covid, schools remaining closed, and lack of available child care services keep workers at home.

Some economists have also blamed the generous federal benefits made during the pandemic – which provide an additional $ 300 each week – although these have already expired in many states.

Vacancies for lower-skilled, lower-paying jobs have been particularly difficult to fill, prompting companies like Walmart and Amazon to offer retention bonuses and higher starting salaries.

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