McDonald’s handing out coronavirus-related bonuses

The fast food giant is the latest employer to turn to one-time payments to help employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By: | May 13, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

McDonald’s is handing out bonuses to every worker at its company-owned stores as a way to thank them for working during the coronavirus pandemic.

The corporate bonus will be equivalent to 10% of the workers’ pay earned in May, McDonald’s says.

“Our restaurants remain open and continue to serve meals to our frontline heroes who are working hard in communities across the country,” the company said in an emailed statement to HRE. “This bonus is another way we can appreciate our restaurant employees who make it all possible.”


The company says the bonus was inspired by what its franchisees were doing for their workers. The vast majority of McDonald’s locations are franchised, meaning the individual owners control the benefits and pay of those workers. “The majority of franchisees are providing enhanced compensation programs during COVID-19, such as appreciation pay, bonuses, gift cards and raises,” a McDonald’s representative said.

Related:Here’s how employers are changing benefits due to COVID-19

The fast food giant is the latest employer to turn to one-time payments to help employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Kroger, for instance, in March provided a one-time bonus to every hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing and customer service associate, amounting to $300 for full-time associates and $150 for part-time associates. Financial services firm Ally Financial gave employees making $100,000 or less a one-time $1,200 tax-free financial assistance payment to help with incremental costs related to working from home. Facebook and JPMorgan also handed out financial payments to employees to help.

Related:Benefits and the pandemic: Are you stepping up?

McDonald’s says the bonus is one of several benefits it has turned to in wake of the pandemic. It also doubled first quarter incentive bonuses to qualifying restaurant managers, offered paid sick leave to workers impacted by COVID-19 and provided a nurse’s hotline and emotional support counseling for employees and their families.

In general, a number of employers are turning to enhanced benefits and programs to help employees during the pandemic. Nearly half of employers surveyed by Willis Towers Watson say they’re boosting healthcare benefits and broadening wellbeing programs as a result of the current environment. More yet are turning to leave programs and other offerings as employees report significant challenges during the pandemic.


“Employers are doing what they can to support their workers through this difficult time. The pandemic has led to high levels of employee anxiety and stress, so employers are making it easier for employees to get help across all aspects of the wellbeing spectrum,” says Regina Ihrke, senior director and wellbeing leader at Willis Towers Watson.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at

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