McDonald’s Not Sure How Its Workers Survive On Minimum Wage

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A McDonald's budget template for employees shows it takes roughly two full-time minimum wage jobs to scrape by.

The McDonald’s Monopoly game is back this week, but it’s kind of a bad time for the chain to be associated with play money.

Last month, a franchise employee quit and sued over being paid with a fee-heavy prepaid card. And now, “in what appears to have been a gesture of goodwill gone haywire,” The Atlantic says, a McDonald’s-Visa partnership has led to a financial planning site for the fast-food chain’s employees.

“Helping you succeed financially is one of the many ways McDonald’s is creating a satisfying and rewarding work environment,” its money management manual says. But according to the sample budget the manual provides, a McDonald’s employee would need not one but two full-time restaurant jobs to start saving $100 a month. The budget also assumes:

  • Rent or mortgage is $600 a month.
  • Health insurance is $20 a month, less than half of the most basic McDonald’s plan, The Atlantic says.
  • Employees don’t need to keep warm. (Heating bill budget: $0.)
  • Gas is free. (There’s a $150 budget line for a car payment and a $100 line for insurance, though.)

In other words, the sample budget is nowhere close to realistic. To find out the reality, CNN asked four real McDonald’s employees for their monthly budget breakdowns.

One is a college student working part time (25 hours a week) and living with his mom, CNN says. He makes $525 a month, spending $90 of that on bus fare to work and school and paying $250 toward rent. After food and other expenses there’s nothing left and he doesn’t have enough money to cover his tuition bill.

The income of two fathers, one of whom says he eats most meals at McDonald’s to save money, falls several hundred dollars short of meeting the monthly expenditures they describe, CNN says. The other employee works at two separate McDonald’s restaurants to get more hours. His monthly take-home pay is $610, though he has been employed by the chain for more than two decades.

McDonald’s employees aren’t eligible to win prizes in the chain’s Monopoly game, by the way.

Stacy Johnson

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