Employment Rights: Minimum Wage for Fast Food Employees

September 30, 2016

Minimum Wage

The person that handed you your last greasy hamburger, plate of fries, or coffee cup could very well be making less an hour than your entire order costs.

The Fair Labor Standards Act was implemented in 1938 to set employee payment regulations. Minimum wage, the forty-hour work week, and overtime are just a few of the items covered under the FLSA. Although employers are required by law to meet at least the minimum requirement nationwide, the federal minimum wage is still only $7.25 an hour, and this doesn’t reach the living wage in even the poorest areas in the United States. It doesn’t even pay for a coffee and sandwich at Starbucks.

Currently, federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour. Some states have implemented a plan to raise the minimum wage for fast food employees to $15 an hour.

This has caused some commotion.

There are two basic arguments concerning the potential wage increase for fast food employees. One is that fast food employees aren’t being paid enough to support their families. The opposing proposes that raising the minimum wage is counter-productive because it would result in the bankruptcy of fast food restaurants and a loss of fast food employees’ jobs.

Those in favor of raising the minimum wage point out that $7.25 an hour is not a livable wage. In a metropolis like Los Angeles County, the minimum wage is $9.00 an hour and the living wage is $12.56. And in itsy bitsy rural Warren County, Georgia, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the living wage is $9.82 an hour. Because fast food employees are making at or just above minimum wage in most states, it is likely that they are not reaching the living wage.

Those against the raise, namely those fueled by the Heritage Foundation, argue that raising the minimum wage for fast food workers does more harm than good. They argue that fast food companies would be forced to increase prices which in turn could damage budgets of those living in moderate conditions. The Heritage Foundation does not offer a solution for bringing the wages of those who work for fast food restaurants closer to the living wage.

New York is planning to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2021, though New York City is expected to have increased the minimum wage for fast food employees to $15.00 by December of 2018. New York has always been a progressive state, and more states may follow suit. Real change would have to come from the federal government. Then, higher wages could be implemented across the United States.

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