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McDonald’s class action claims systemic failure to provide rest breaks

McDonald’s is facing a class action over the company’s alleged failure to provide its employees with paid 10-minute rest breaks.

The McDonald’s staff class action filed in the Federal Court by Shine Lawyers follows a 2020 finding that former employee Chiara Staines was not provided with paid 10-minute rest breaks when working shifts four hours or longer.

It also found the franchisee misrepresented the nature of the breaks Staines was entitled to.

Under the McDonald’s Australian Enterprise Agreement 2013 and the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 staff are entitled to a paid 10-minute break for shifts lasting between four and nine hours, as well as two paid 10-minute breaks for shifts nine hours or longer.

A joint investigation between Shine and Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) – which supported Staines’ case – has led to the court action which is being underwritten by litigation funding firm Court House Capital.

Shine class actions practice leader Vicky Antzoulatos said “What we are alleging is a systemic failure  across the McDonald’s network.

“We are dealing with a class of vulnerable workers, mostly minors, who it appears were systematically not provided with their entitled rest breaks. Many worked in extreme heat and other onerous conditions for hours on end and couldn’t access the toilet or a drink. This conduct has in many instances affected the physical and mental well-being of the workers, and the class action seeks to hold McDonald’s to account,” she said.

RAFFWU Secretary, Josh Cullinan described McDonald’s “blatant disregard” to workers as “breathtaking”.

Samantha Brown, senior corporate relations manager at McDonald’s, said the company was “mindful of its obligations under applicable employment laws”.

“McDonald’s believes its restaurants complied with applicable instruments, provided rest breaks to employees and were consistent with historic working arrangements,” she said.

The fast food chain received formal notification of the filing today and is reviewing the matter.

“We value our employees and recognise their great contribution to the success of our restaurants. We create flexible working opportunities for all employees, in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling for them,” Brown said.

This is originally published on our sister’s publication, Inside Franchise Business Executive.

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