McDonald's announced Wednesday that it would raise pay at its company owned restaurants, a move aimed to attract workers in an increasingly competitive job market and soften criticism about working conditions.
The move does not affect franchises, which comprise 90 percent of McDonald's 14,000 locations.
"We are acting with a renewed sense of energy and purpose to turn our business around," CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement. "We know that a motivated workforce leads to better customer service so we believe this initial step not only benefits our employees, it will improve the McDonald's restaurant experience."
A growing movement of fast-food workers are planning a series of wage protests at McDonald's locations and other restaurants around the country on April 15.
The new initiative, to go into effect July 1, will hike starting wages to $1 above the locally mandated minimum wage, the company said.
Workers will also be allowed to accrue paid time off after staying with the company for a year.
Some 90,000 people are employed at McDonald's company-owned restaurants.
The announcement follows similar moves by other large American companies, including Walmart, amid to a strengthening economy and declining unemployment rate. At the same time, many cities and states have raised their minimum wages.
McDonald's has also been targeted in demonstrations over pay and labor practices. Demands to improve conditions have also come in lawsuits and filings with the National Labor Relations Board and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
—Jon Schuppe with The Associated Press