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A McDonald’s In Oregon Calls For Under 16s To Apply For Jobs; A Growing Trend Around U.S.

The Medford McDonald's has seen a spike in applications of teen workers since making the offer, which complies with labour laws

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

UNITED STATES: A McDonald’s in Oregon, U.S. is calling on 14 and 15-year-olds to apply for jobs at the restaurant amid a shortage of fast-food workers in the COVID era.

Such a not-shy business model comes as fast food and other outlets across the U.S. struggle to fill vacancies despite restrictions easing.

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In the past too, the McDonald’s has relied on teen workers — mainly 16-and up, but this store in Medford, Oregon chose to be upright; “Now Hiring 14 and 15-year-olds,” the Biddle Road franchise put a banner outside its shop two weeks ago, urging teen workers to apply. 

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The banner is still out front of the store, store manager Ashley Fincher confirmed to USA Today on Wednesday morning.

Heather Kennedy, the operator of the Medford restaurant, told Business Insider such staff shortages were “unheard of” in her family’s four decades of operating McDonald’s franchises.

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Initially, she tried to attract more workers by raising the restaurant’s minimum wage to $15 (£10.50), but to no vain. And once management opened the floodgates to the under 16s, Kennedy said she received 25 applications in two weeks. 

The Oregon McDonald’s move seems to signal a growing trend around the country as it is not the first fast-food chain to ask younger workers to fill staffing gaps.

An Ohio Burger King and a Wendy’s have put up similar signs recently. And according to reports, the Texan chain Layne’s Chicken Fingers is promoting workers in their teens and early 20s into managerial positions, amid a lack of more experienced recruits.

U.S. labour laws vary from state to state, but the US Department of Labor is firm with 14 being the minimum for nonagricultural jobs. In Oregon, people aged 14 and above are allowed to work in non-hazardous jobs such as food service, as long as their hours are limited to accommodate schooling and they get adequate rest breaks.

The turning to young teen workers could be more of a bridge to survive an economic crisis, with a sharp labour shortage in the U.S. as fear of COVID, schools remaining shut, and a lack of available child-care and unemployment benefits of COVID era keeps workers at home.

Some economists have also blamed pandemic-related generous federal benefits – which provide an extra $300 every week to those unemployed – although these have already expired in many states.

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