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McDonald’s blunders with holiday tip advice for workers

For many McDonald's (MCD) workers, it's bad enough to earn rock-bottom wages. But on top of that, they're also getting some tone-deaf financial advice from the burger giant.

McDonald's latest advice misstep is its guide for employees on how to handle holiday tipping. For instance, in case you're unsure of how to tip the au pair, the company has a rule of thumb: One week’s pay, as well as a “small gift from your child.”

The tips, which range from holiday gifts for garage attendants to massage therapists, would add up to thousands of dollars in pay, notes CNBC. 

Given that the median hourly wage for food workers, including fast-food employees, is just $8.78 — or an annual wage of $18,260 — that’s clearly out of touch with reality for many McDonald’s employees.

Fast food workers across the U.S. stage prote... 01:19
The blunder comes at a touchy time for McDonald’s. Fast-food workers, including McDonald’s employees, are striking against what they say is unfair pay. Workers in cities across the country walked off the job on Thursday, as they seek to raise their baseline pay to $15 an hour. 

"To put it in perspective, yesterday I got paid, today I have not a dollar in my pocket," said Akilarose Thompson, 24, told The Guardian. She earns $8.28 an hour, or three cents above the minimum wage in Illinois, and also works a second job at Darden’s (DRI) Red Lobster. Despite that second job, she still relies on a food bank to supplement her meals. 

McDonald’s, in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, said the content “is provided by a third-party partner and quotes from one of the best-known etiquette gurus, Emily Post. We continue to review the resource and will ask the vendor to make changes as needed."

It’s not the first time McDonald’s has blundered in providing financial advice to workers. In a household budgeting guide provided to its workers earlier this year, McDonald’s suggested getting a second job to make ends meet. It left off budgeting for child care, retirement savings, and water and gas. The guide suggested spending $20 a month for health insurance, a small amount given employees typically spent more than $2,200 a year — or $183 a month — on premiums in 2011. 

Of course, there’s one level of McDonald’s employee that might benefit from the extravagant tipping guide: the executive suite. CEO Don Thompson received a 2012 compensation package of $13.8 million, or more than triple the $4.1 million he earned in 2011.

With that kind of gravy, giving your dog walker a $70 tip isn’t even a drop in the bucket. But for Thompson’s legions of burger-flippers and cashiers, who pull in just $351 per week in gross wages, that type of suggestion strikes many as a tone-deaf insult.

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