Can 14 and 15-year-olds solve the labor shortage?
At a McDonald’s in Medford, OR, a ginormous banner, “Now Hiring 14 and 15-year-olds,” has drawn nationwide media attention and a healthy amount of applicants amid the country’s labor crisis.
Raising the location’s minimum pay to $15 still left a shortfall in scheduling, but the sign brought in 25 applications within two weeks.
“There are always staffing issues, but this is unheard of,” Heather Coleman, the McDonald’s proprietor, told Business Insider. “[14-year-old and 15-year-old workers] have been a blessing in disguise. They have the drive and work ethic. They get the technology. They catch on really quickly.”
The move comes as fast food chains have been closing dining rooms and shortening hours due to staff challenges that are also being felt by retailers.
An article from Raleigh’s WRAL from January of this year listed Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, AMC Theaters and Kroger among those sometimes hiring 14 to 15-year-olds, although they may limit their roles. Kroger, for instance, hires 14 to 15-year-olds as baggers, shelf-stockers and prep-pickup order takers.
A person must be 14 at minimum to work in nonagricultural jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, many businesses have a minimum hiring age of 16 or higher to avoid the hassles of complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as local child labor laws.
Many state laws follow FLSA guidelines that hold 14 and 15-year olds can’t work during school hours, are limited to three-hour shifts on school days and can’t work more than eight hours on non-school days.
The labor deficit has been blamed on subpar wages, COVID fears, childcare uncertainty and the extra $300 weekly unemployment benefits that expire in September.
Hiring young teens would require changes for many chains. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, CVS, TJX and Home Depot welcome hires at the age of 16, Kohl’s at 17, and Macy’s, Costco and Urban Outfitters at 18.
Food establishments and retailers could face accusations of child abuse with younger hires. A popular Reddit post on the Medford McDonald’s hires was entitled, ”Because if adults won’t work for you, take advantage of some great child labor.”
- An Oregon McDonald’s is so desperate for workers it hung a huge banner outside calling on 14-year-olds to apply – Business Insider
- McDonald’s in Oregon puts up a huge banner asking ’14 and 15-year-olds’ to apply – USA Today
- Desperate Oregon McDonald’s lures 14- and 15-year-olds in labor shortage – Daily News
- Non-Agricultural Jobs – 14-15 – U.S. Department Of Labor
- Darlington teacher advocates for 14 and 15-year-old students to help fill job vacancies – ABC13 News
- Companies that hire 14- and 15-year-olds – WRAL Raleigh
- Because if adults won’t work for you, take advantage of some great child labor… – Reddit
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you in favor of fast food chains or retailers hiring 14 to 15-year-olds to mitigate labor shortages? What restrictions or steps might be necessary to reduce any inherent risks to lowering hiring ages?