The boss of McDonald’s in the UK has defended the company’s continued use of zero-hours contracts for about 80,000 employees in the fast food chain’s British restaurants.
Paul Pomroy, who took over running the UK operation in December, said staff loved the flexibility of the contracts, which have been criticised for exploiting workers. Pomroy told the BBC: “We still have zero-hours contracts and they are very flexible contracts, so people at McDonald’s get their shifts two weeks in advance and we allow employees [on the contracts] to go and work elsewhere. We have a very good system of feedback from our employees and having surveyed our employees they still love the flexibility.”
McDonald’s said about 80% of more than 100,000 UK employees at franchised and company-owned restaurants were on zero-hours contracts and that 92% of employees in a survey of company-owned restaurants said they were happy with their contracts.
The chain has been criticised for its use of the employment contracts, which became emblematic of harsher working terms and greater pressure exerted on employees by companies in the last parliament. Official figures showed in February that almost 700,000 people were on the contracts, which at their harshest can require employees to work at short notice and prevent them working elsewhere.
McDonald’s said all its employees had permanent contracts and were entitled to holiday and sick pay, staff discounts, training and regular performance reviews. As well as being free to work elsewhere, employees are not required to be on call, McDonald’s said.
The contracts continue to cause controversy. Unions representing staff at Sports Direct’s main warehouse have filed a pay claim asking the retailer to move thousands of zero-hours workers who were excluded from staff bonuses on to permanent contracts.
Pomroy said McDonald’s is reviewing how it will pay the new national living wage to staff aged over 25. McDonald’s pays just above the current minimum wage of £6.50 an hour for UK workers aged 21 and over.
The minimum wage for over-25s, rebranded by the chancellor as the national living wage, will increase to £7.20 in 2017, before rising to at least £9 by 2020 under the chancellor’s plan.
Pomroy said: “It’s not just the immediate move in the rate to £7.20. It’s understanding the knock on-effects and how we can manage that over the next three or four years, and we’re working through that.”
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 26th August 2015 16.33 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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