Is McDonald’s a good place to work?

With over 1000 locations across the UK, fast food franchise McDonald’s is probably the most well-known company offering large numbers of entry-level jobs. And given that they employ well over 120,000 workers in the UK, it’s worth asking: is McDonald's a good place to work? 

Breakroom has over 550 McDonald’s workers who’ve answered questions about their experience. Who better to ask about what McDonald’s is really like than the people who work there?

Here’s what you’ll find out:

What roles are available at McDonald’s and who are they suitable for?

Before we dig into what working at McDonald’s is like, here’s a snapshot of the types of roles McDonald’s workers have:

  • Kitchen assistants

  • Customer service assistants

  • Managers (store and shift)

But at McDonald’s everyone gets the job title “crew member”, whatever their role is.

The high-paced, high-pressure tasks of serving and preparing food quickly means that McDonald’s puts a lot of focus on teamwork and the idea of being part of ”the crew”. This makes it clear that ”cross-training” people to carry out tasks across both the kitchen and front of house is important for McDonald’s. But do their employees really feel part of a ”crew”?

How deep does the team culture go, and does the actual experience of workers live up to it?

72% of McDonald’s workers have shared on Breakroom that they feel stressed at work. However, the causes of stress don’t appear to come from their colleagues. In fact, 64% of people recommend working with their team and 71% feel treated with respect by their managers.

They told us their main causes of stress include:

  • long hours

  • tricky customers

  • physically tiring work in a busy environment

This shows that McDonald’s jobs are probably most suitable for sociable people who are okay with being on their feet for large chunks of time. Much of the work involves repetitive tasks that need to be performed as quickly as possible to keep customers happy.

However, if you’re OK with that and want something entry level, you only need to meet two requirements before applying for a job at McDonald’s:

  1. you’ve finished secondary school

  2. you’ve got the right to work in the UK

How much does McDonald’s pay per hour in the UK?

It’s a commonly held assumption that ”McDonald’s pay is low,” but is this true? Let’s dig into the facts.

Looking at the data we have from employees, the average pay for all McDonald’s crew members (who aren’t managers) is £7.30 per hour. If we break this down further, we can see what McDonald’s crew members in different age groups earn per hour:

Age group McDonald’s* National Minimum Wage Difference
Under 18 £6.08 £4.55 +33%
18–20 £6.91 £6.45 +7%
21–24 £8.43 £8.20 +3%
25 and over £8.47 £8.72 -3%

*Average pay per hour

The above suggests that, at McDonald’s, the younger you are the more you can earn above the Government’s National Minimum Wage for your age bracket. Unfortunately, all McDonald’s pay rates still fall well short of those suggested by the Living Wage Foundation. They independently recommend hourly pay rates every year that are based on the real cost of living, called the Real Living Wage. In 2020, the Real Living Wage is £9.30 per hour and £10.75 per hour in London.

Now let’s compare McDonald’s average hourly pay rates to the average pay rates of the other fast food companies rated on Breakroom:

Age group McDonald’s Fast food restaurants Difference
Under 18 £6.08 £5.98 +2%
18–20 £6.91 £7.33 -6%
21–24 £8.43 £8.29 +2%
25 and over £8.47 £8.54 +1%

This data comes from workers across the fast food industry with similar roles to McDonald’s crew members. We’ve left out those with managerial roles. So whilst McDonald’s is associated with low pay, it’s pretty much in line with pay rates across all fast food restaurant chains.

When does McDonald’s pay? Is it weekly or monthly?

McDonald’s tend to pay their workers every two weeks: this is good news for anyone where waiting a while between pay checks isn’t ideal.

How does McDonald’s sick pay work?

Whilst 73% of McDonald’s workers have shared on Breakroom that taking time off sick isn’t difficult, only 8% have reported that they would get paid if they had to call in sick for a shift they were meant to work.

McDonald’s officially reports that it pays Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is in line with legal requirements. However, SSP only covers workers who earn over £120 a week and have been ill for four consecutive days.

At Breakroom we believe you should be paid for any shift you’re meant to be working. None of us can help it if we get sick unexpectedly.

McDonald’s jobs for students: are they a good fit for student life?

From what people on Breakroom have shared so far, it’s clear that McDonald’s jobs are most suited for younger people, especially considering the pay rates. If you’re looking to earn whilst you’re studying, you might be thinking about a job near your school or university. 95% of student McDonald’s workers on Breakroom have shared that it’s a good place to work alongside studying.

Here’s what to consider if you’re thinking about whether a McDonald’s job will fit around your student life:

  • 50% of employees have a zero hours contract. This can be helpful around times when you’ve got those big deadlines coming because you’re not committed to working too many hours when you may need to be studying. However, this also means that work isn’t always guaranteed.

  • Following on from this, 79% of McDonald’s workers say they aren’t worried about getting enough hours. So although there’s a good chance you’d have a zero hours contract, picking up hours may not be too much of a worry.

  • Unfortunately, 63% of McDonald’s workers receive less than one week’s notice of their shift schedule. This could be problematic for planning your schedule when deadline season looms!

Summary: are McDonald’s jobs good?

McDonald’s Breakroom Rating of 6.0/10 means their jobs rank 3rd compared to other fast food companies: 

Rank Fast food restaurant Breakroom Rating
1 Five Guys 6.8/10
2 Greggs 6.7/10
3 McDonald’s 6.0/10
4 Domino’s Pizza 5.5/10
5= Pizza Hut 5.1/10
5= Subway 5.1/10
7 Burger King 5.0/10
8 KFC 4.7/10
9 Papa John’s 3.5/10
10 Taco Bell 2.7/10

Based on the Breakroom Rating, and comparing them to their competitors, it’s clear that McDonald’s has plenty of room for improvement. For example, there could be more support for employees who find the work physically tiring and stressful. They could put in place a fairer sick pay policy. And last of all, they could raise pay to be more in line with the Real Living Wage across all age brackets.

Before deciding on a job in fast food, make sure to check out the Breakroom Ratings for all the companies like McDonald’s. The ratings make it easy to compare all the important stuff about work so you can find a good job that’s right for you.

Data used in this blog post is from 9 July 2020