NEW YORK (AFP) - Fast-food giant McDonald's announced Wednesday that it would increase wages for 90,000 employees in company-owned restaurants in the United States, as well as offering them paid time-off.
The pay increase though will not apply to the workers in McDonald's restaurants owned by franchisees, which comprise some 90 per cent of the 14,000 McDonald's outlets across the country.
McDonald's USA said that from July 1 this year, the starting wages for full and part-time workers in its own restaurants will be one dollar above the local official minimum wage.
The company gave no average for that, but based on current state standards, the new pay scale could range from US$6.15 ($8.39) an hour in Georgia and Wyoming to US$11.50 in Washington, DC.
Some cities have even higher local standards, so that a McDonald's-owned restaurant in Seattle could pay US$16 an hour.
On the other hand, five states have no minimum wage, and it was not clear how McDonald's would set pay in those.
The company said it expected that by the end of 2016, the average wage it pays workers at company-owned restaurants will be above US$10 an hour.
"We've been working on a comprehensive benefits package for our employees - the people who bring our brand to life for customers every day in our US restaurants," McDonald's president and chief executive Steve Easterbrook said in a statement.
"We've listened to our employees and learned that - in addition to increased wages - paid personal leave and financial assistance for completing their education would make a real difference in their careers and lives."
McDonald's said the 3,100 franchisee companies that operate most of the brand's outlets around the country will make their own decisions on wages.
The move comes as pressure mounts on large employers in low-paid service industries, from retail chains to fast-food businesses, to increase wages that have not moved for years.