The stunning decision Burger King's biggest franchisee made amid the pandemic

With so many fast food companies struggling to retain skilled workers, we would like to think that the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak would be an opportunity for franchise owners to show their staff — particularly front-line workers who run a higher risk of getting infected — a little bit of love. But for Burger King's biggest franchisee, Carrols Restaurant Group, that appeared to be out of the question. 

Business Insider reported that Carrols Restaurant had announced that instead of giving its workers hazard pay, it would instead cut the pay for all of its employees across its more than 1,000 restaurants by 10 percent. The pay cut applied to everyone — from workers in-store to executives, and goes soundly against the trend set by companies like Target, Costco, and Amazon, all of which have opted to give their workers raises. 

Food Beast says Starbucks had even taken the step of paying its U.S. and Canadian employees for the next month — even if they didn't work. "No Starbucks partner needs to choose between their health and coming to work," the company reportedly told employees.

Business Insider says that Carrols Restaurant Group did reverse the decision and said the 10 percent wage cut would not apply to store employees — but only after their story had run.

A pay cut would have further hurt underpaid fast food workers

The pay cut would have added insult to injury for the frontline staff at these Burger King restaurants. One employee had told Business Insider that they were getting their hours cut as well. "Most companies right now are paying their employees extra money for the hazardous conditions that being an 'essential employee' are putting them in," he said. "While I am under no disillusion that I am an essential employee ... for some reason fast food has been labeled as such (even though our sales are already down 50 percent, and we are considered one of the busier restaurants in our district)."

A pay cut would also have been disastrous for Carrol's in-store employees. The fast food business pays notoriously low wages, with the average pay packet for a fast food employee coming in at just $13,500 a year. Earlier, we pointed out that the wages in the fast food industry have not kept up with economic realities, and workers have had to take second jobs just to try and make ends meet.