A McDonald's outlet in Oregon has hired 14 and 15-year-old workers and has posted a banner outside the store advertising the job opening.
Heather Coleman, the McDonald's operator, told Insider that they've been experiencing staffing issues since the pandemic. Until COVID-19, staff shortage was never an issue in the 40 years since the Coleman family opened their franchise.
Coleman offered a slight raise in the minimum wage at $15 per hour to entice more workers. Still, this didn't attract the expected number of applicants, so the operator decided to fill the job vacancies with 14 to 15-year-old children.
Legal Worker's Age in Oregon
While child labor laws vary per state, it is legal in Oregon to hire workers between 14 or 15. However, the teenagers' hours of work should not conflict with their school hours. The kids are also allowed to work on school days for three hours, but they shouldn't exceed 23 hours of work per week.
Following the banner advertisement, Coleman said that they received 25 teen applicants within two weeks. The operator took this hitch as a blessing in disguise since younger workers have the drive to learn, and they "catch on really quickly" with technology.
Economic analysts said that many factors had driven the shortage of workers. Some non-disabled wage earners have not been actively job hunting since they still have their pandemic-boosted unemployment benefits.
On the other hand, some workers with fears of catching the virus have taken on stay-at-home jobs, and most parents have been taking care of their children as several public sites, including child care facilities, remain closed or limited.
Meanwhile, the service industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors when COVID-19 crippled the world in early 2020. As of May 2021, some 1.3 million jobs in restaurants and hotels remain unfilled for various reasons, including the risk of contracting the Delta variant strain.
McDonald's has a vaccine mandate, but this only applies to corporate workers, not restaurant staff.
Following the Trend
The Oregon McDonald's is not the only restaurant hiring teen workers to solve staffing problems. Layne's Chicken Fingers in Texas has promoted 16 to 19-year-old kids as managers with a $50,000 income per year.
Garrett Reed, the company's CEO, told Wall Street Journal that they are "thin on leadership" as most qualified workers prefer to work at bigger chains like McDonald's or Walmart. So, they have been training teenagers for managerial jobs for their more than 100 franchise locations across the state.
In May, A Burger King Ohio outlet sparked a debate after posting a hiring advertisement on social media for 14 and 15-year-old kids. Like Oregon, the legal working age in Ohio starts at 14, but netizens criticized the company for child labor.
A proud father also received backlash online after sharing that his 14-year-old son spent his summer working at Burger King, including on weekends. The dad said that his son wanted to save up for a car and make responsible decisions at such a young age. However, some netizens felt that the boy was working too hard to enjoy his summer as a teenager.
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