Employment Relations in the Fast Food Industry

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This essay aims to do comparison and contrast of Singapore with USA and Germany in terms of the work and employment relations in the fast food industry discussing difference and similarities. This essay presents the background of the fast-food industry including its definition and meaning, expansion in the fast-food industry. McDonald's is the largest fast-food brand company with its franchise in more than 180 countries around the globe. Therefore McDonald's has been chosen specifically as fast food chain in different countries like Singapore, USA and Germany. This essay is divided into three basic parts to simplify the topic discussion and answers. The main three parts are introduction, body of the essay and conclusion. Introduction opens the topic question along with elaborating background of the problem. Main body of the essay has definitions and discussion which answers the questions considering the ins and outs of the question. Conclusion is the last part of the essay and mainly explains the contrast of the employment relation in fast-food industry in Singapore, USA and Germany. To understand the employment relationship in fast-food industry in Singapore, USA and Germany an internal and external dynamics assessment of McDonald's is conducted throughout the main body of the essay. In this essay employment relationship refers to employers and employees relation. Employers' and employees' relationship is of diverse nature and it is not only economical, political and social relationships but rather refers to probability of group relationships, where group relationships are the basis of unions or other types of workers representation.

McDonald's is a multinational corporation and an important player in the fast-food industry due to its expansion. It is not only expanded around the globe but rather known for its brand. As of 2010, McDonald's has 50,000 outlets and franchise around the world. Due to its expansion it is one of the largest employers in the world with two million workers in different 118 countries. McDonald's has 46 restaurants for every million residents in USA. Per capita sale of MacDonald's are $54 in USA. In addition there are other fast food brands except McDonald's like Pizza Hut, Burger King and KFC. The expansion in the fast-food industry has changed the service provided by this sector. In countries like USA, UK and Canada, McDonald's has 70 % employment and the largest employer in Brazil. The rapid growth and emergence of fast-food industry has increased the development of services sector in fast food. The employment rate of fast-food services provides a better opportunity to understand the employment relationship between employers and employees. Over the years, fast-food industry is one of those industries which have cried for more flexibility in their working policy and conditions. In addition, these corporations also demand for low pay to their employees for young workers. Fast food industry which commonly employ workers as part-timers, have been very active in promoting part time and low paid jobs. Due to competitive environment fast food companies have been experiencing great pressure from market and suppliers. All these progress have impact on working condition and working environment in the industry.

Fast Food Industry

Fast-Food industry is a significant industry which is consistently spreading. The meaning of Fast-food is taken in a broader sense yet it is difficult to give a single definition of fast-food. Fast-food can be understood as quick consumption food or quick service food. The meaning of fast-food was first defined in 1951 in Merriam-Webster dictionary. Fast-food industry is relatively a quick service outlet, franchise and restaurant. Fast-food industry is the spot where quick food is prepared and served. However fat-food industry is different from other restaurant as it offers wide variety of product. Nowadays increased competition in fast food industry companies offer a standardize service (Royle & Towers, 2002).

Employment Relations in Singapore

McDonald's is the leading fast-food company in Singapore market and has established a modern fast food industry. The service of McDonald's is improved and standardized and it works to retain its status through controlling thousands of outlet, franchise and restaurants around the globe. McDonald's maintains its international standard through monitoring all the process and practices which aims to ensure that the other franchises and restaurants are following the standardized code of conduct of company. However there is different code of conducts which varies from culture to culture and societies to societies due to different social and cultural diversities and configurations where there may be different laws and culture practices. Since McDonald's is a transnational corporation it controls the maintenance of the uniformity of standard across the world.

In Singapore McDonald's service is highly impacted by the use of technology and it has impact on the employment relationship as well. Organizational structure of Singapore is woven with computerized technology which aims to improve the production efficiency of company. This structure has also effects on employment terms and conditions. There are three main groups in Singapore comprising McDonald's services. These groups refers to hierarchy of the organization like the headquarter team, the restaurant managers, and crew members. Headquarter team is a group of senior executive and managers in charge with dealing finance, human resources, public relation, personnel and training. Restaurant managers are responsible for monitoring and preceding the restaurant work. Crew is appointed at the preparation and food serving and cleaning arrangement of the restaurant. Because organization is structured with computerized system, it is mainly used on counter for accounting matters thus it saves the time of employees. The dependencies of organization on computer technology for doing major tasks make them hire such workers with no or little experience and non skilled. At McDonald's there are as such no career for crew on the other hand there is career opportunity for managers to get promoted to upper a higher level of management. It is claimed by many that there is also career opportunity for crew members and they can be promoted to management level. Crew is the lowest paid employee at McDonald's with lowest rank and does not have unimportant role in organization because of the characteristics of their tasks. They are employed as a part-timer because their task is considered as insignificant. McDonald's has its own employment policy espoused philosophy which declares that issues regarding the efficiency and equity have to be dealt with without the need for unions. In Singapore McDonald's is there without any union and company does not allow workers to have any union or collective effort.

McDonald explains company's terms and conditions all three levels for its employee. Headquarters term and conditions are confidential and for other two levels are elaborated as such: Managers get paid monthly wages and commonly work for 40-hours week. There are two level of crew at McDonald's full time crew and part time crew. Full time crew gets salary hourly and maximum can work for 8 hours. All employees get in-house medical benefits in Singapore and crew members also permitted to have annual pay bonuses which are determined by the mangers of restaurant. Annual bonus of restaurant managers is determined by headquarter team and paid to the manager who has worked less than 12 months.

Employment Relations in the United States

McDonald's is the leading fast food industry in the USA. According to estimation there are 2.5 million workers are engaged with fast-food industry but at the same time these workers make the largest group of low paid workers. In USA employment are conducted through franchises and company does not employ directly. The legal affairs of US offer freedom for employers to establish their own policy and employment terms and conditions. The standard leading employment relations is 'employment-at-will' in most conditions, which gives no rights to carrying on employment and that employers have any legal obligation of fairness. Fast food industries are without any union and company does not allow any worker to be involved in union activity. Here it is similarity in the employment conditions of Singapore and USA in term of union which is prohibited in both countries. In USA most of the fast food workers and 72% at McDonald's serve as part-timers. Just like Singapore in USA technology has a significant character in the standardization of working efficiency of the fast food workers and easing the work.

In USA McDonald's has established a convenient way for the process; grills and fry vats have been considered by them that employ buzzers to tell crew when to proceed with the next step in their routine; they have provided several food products in from that require simply be heated, rehydrated, or gathered; have programmed cash registers to ease counter work simple and easy doing. Computerized programming aims increase the level of other managerial tasks such as shifts scheduling, managing payroll, ordering, and watching sales, log and waste. The high increase in the standard of tasks is the important component to many characteristics of the fast-food industry in the US. It provides good reason for low wages to offer to employees. In US commonly young and inexperienced people who are capable to work the simplified jobs to accept these low wages. McDonald's operate more than 12,400 restaurants in US with no union in any of restaurants. Company has issued a handbook bestowing manager's power to firing any employee for any reason. In US the imbalance of power is not parallel which gives more freedom to employers and does not give any protection to employees' rights. That is the reason why fast-food industry in USA mainly relies on the low-paid, and part-timers workers. The freedom of establishing free terms and conditions has empowered the fast food industry to have more and more turnover with obstacles to be involved in the trade union activities.

Employment Relation in Germany

Fast food industry is the leading industry in Germany for highest turnover. As of 2000, fast food industry possesses approximately 1000 restaurant and outlets with 50,000 workers only in Germany. Unlike Singapore and US, in Germany fast food industry permits to form trade union through recent study suggest that McDonald's allow its employees only asking question regarding their pay scale, and other employees' benefits and breaks, holidays and holiday pay.

In Germany McDonald's employs 50 to 100 employees at restaurant and in every restaurant there is a works council. But recent study has suggested that when employees were asked about the works council they showed unawareness of it which shows that not every employee is known about this works council. In Germany McDonald's has maintained a legal structure which divides it into about 65 % franchises, 15 % company stores and 20 % in seven holding companies known as Anver companies. McDonald's is limited liable company in Germany which forms a collection of small units which employ workers as part-timers and has the highest turnover in Germany. The small units of McDonald's have 50,000 employees constituting small groups of employees.


Multinational fast-food Corporation has been expanding the industry over many decades and nowadays the leading fast-food company McDonald's exists in 118 countries. The policy of fast-food industry to employ low skilled and low paid has increased the job insecurity among the employees. This development has significantly affected the employment relationship between employers and employees. Since company adopts different policy, and applies terms and conditions in different countries, the nature of employment relationship is remarkably affected by terms and conditions therefore employment relationship in different countries are different. McDonald's adopts the policy of employing young and inexperienced workers in low wages who are not interested to take part in trade union as employees union is strictly prohibited in McDonald's. In Singapore for crew members commonly young and inexperienced workers are hired and same situation is seen in US which aims to prevent the employees getting involved into union on the other hand in Germany it is different in the way that foreigners are employed. This is about only a policy, in fact, union organizations are not allowed in Singapore and US while it is different in Germany where there is a workers council in every restaurant. In Singapore fast food employees do not get any support from organization or worker, similarly in US employees at fast food industry are not benefitted or supported by the organization.