Labor officials in China's southern province of Guangdong said Thursday they
are investigating reports that fast-food chains such as McDonald's and KFC pay
their part-time workers less than the minimum wage of about US$1 an hour.
McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc. spokesmen in China responded by saying their
companies abided by the law but were seeking clarification about regulations for
part-time workers, especially for students.
A spokesman for the Guangdong Provincial Labor and Social Security Department
said officials were looking into reports from workers and local media that staff
in the fast-food outlets were being paid up to 40 percent less than the local
A McDonald's outlet in Shaoyang, Central China's
Hunan Province. [newsphoto/file]
"If those foreign companies are actually violating our labor law, they will
definitely get punished according to the relevant laws and rules," said the
spokesman, who like many Chinese would give only his surname, Zhang.
"I can't comment much since now we don't have the results yet," Zhang
The claims first surfaced in a report by the local newspaper New Express
Daily, which said its reporters, posing as job applicants, found that
McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut were paying part-time staff as much as 40 percent
less than the minimum wage for Guangdong, which is 97 cents per hour.
The New Express Daily report said McDonald's was paying part-timers only 52
cents an hour, while it said part-timers at KFC earned 61 cents and at Pizza Hut
The report also accused the restaurants of demanding part-time employees work
the hours of full-time staff but failing to pay them any full-time staff
Neither McDonald's nor Yum, which operates both KFC and Pizza Hut, responded
directly to the allegations regarding their wage rates.
But McDonald's issued a statement Thursday saying that McDonald's Guangdong
Co. was meeting with local labor officials to "clarify our crew source and
employee systems now."
"As a fully responsible employer, we always follow the relevant government
laws and rules. We offer our employees wages which meets the country's relevant
standards," the McDonald's statement said.
Yum Brands issued a statement saying the allegations resulted from confusion
over whether the laws pertaining to part-time workers included students, who
according to the New Express Daily constitute 70 percent of part-time staff in
such fast-food outlets.
"This was caused by a newly introduced regulation. We are working with the
government to seek clarification of these laws," it said. "Yum has always
strictly adhered to Chinese laws and regulations."
It was unclear if there was some reason why students would be exempt from
labor laws. However, labor officials in Guangdong said that as of Jan. 1, the
minimum wage applied to both part- and full-time workers.