Fact-Check: Do McDonald's Employees in Denmark Get Paid $22 an Hour, Six Weeks Paid Vacation?

U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed McDonald's workers in Denmark were getting paid $22 an hour and were also enjoying additional benefits including six weeks paid vacation.

As lawmakers continue to debate over a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has long advocated for the wage hike took to Twitter to criticize the Democrats' decision not to include a rise in hourly pay in their COVID-19 bill while claiming that McDonald's workers in Denmark were earning $22 an hour and even received six weeks paid vacation.

"It is utterly embarrassing that "pay people enough to live" is a stance that's even up for debate," she wrote on Twitter. "Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage. McD's workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise - a big one, considering the phase in."

Fact-Check: True

Turns out, Ocasio-Cortez is right. Full-time employees at McDonald's in Denmark make about $44,000 a year – which roughly translates to just over $21 an hour – and they also get additional perks, including six weeks of paid vacation.

As pointed out by fact-checking website Snopes, a 2019 annual report for McDonald's Denmark notes that McDonald's workers are paid 373,000 kroner a year – which according to the website, converts to about $43,954.41 per year or 21.13 an hour.

A 2014 Reuters article, entitled "I'm making $21 an hour at McDonald's. Why aren't you?" also states that employees younger than 18 make the equivalent of $15 in Denmark while those above 18 are paid at least $21 an hour, nearly three times what adults working at the fast-food chain earn in the United States ($7.25/hour).

McDonalds
McDonald's Logo Reuters

In a 2020 opinion piece for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof noted how full-time McDonald's employees in Denmark also enjoy other benefits, including "six weeks of paid vacation a year, life insurance, a year's paid maternity leave and a pension plan. And like all Danes, they enjoy universal medical insurance and paid sick leave."

As a matter of fact, each employed individual in Denmark is entitled to five weeks of paid vacation thanks to the country's Holiday Act and the government of Denmark also confirms this on its website.

Minimum Wage, Standard of Living and Taxation in Denmark

Although McDonald's workers get paid $20 an hour and enjoy other benefits, it is important to note that Denmark does not have a minimum wage. Instead, the country relies heavily on unions that help workers get access to the benefits they enjoy.

Moreover, these wages do not impact the prices of items on the menu. The New York Times article found that that Big Macs cost only about 27 cents more on average in Denmark than in America.

That said, while the cost of a Big Mac in Denmark has not been impacted significantly as a result of the higher wages, the country still does have a very high cost of living compared to the U.S., as well as higher tax brackets.

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