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McDonald’s heading to Federal Court over denied rest breaks

The Shops, Distributive and Allied Employees Association has lodged a case against a second McDonald’s franchisee in the Federal Court, claiming the owner-operator of a number of sites across South Australia denied workers paid rest breaks.

Delbridge Investments, owned by Graham Delbridge, owns and operates the Murray Bridge, Rundle Mall East, and Trinity Gardens McDonald’s sites, and formerly owned the franchise at Cross Roads.

The case is on behalf of 55 current and former employees, and seeks thousands of dollars of compensation and penalties against Delbridge for breaching the McDonald’s agreement and the Fast Food Award.

“Paid rest and drinks breaks aren’t optional, they’re a right for all fast food workers,” said SA SDA Secretary Josh Peak.

“McDonald’s is the first job for many teenagers across Australia.

“It’s not asking too much to expect a big employer like McDonald’s to do the right thing by young and vulnerable workers and ensure they receive all of their entitlements.”

However, the SDA said it has received information that Delbridge is taking steps to exit the McDonald’s franchise business in an effort to escape liability – and has contacted McDonald’s to ensure he can be held accountable.

A McDonald’s Australia spokesperson confirmed this to Inside Retail Australia, and said it will be taking over the operations of the Murray Bridge, Rundle Mall East and Trinity Gardens restaurants for the time being.

“The change in ownership is not related to the recent filing by the SDA in the Federal Court,” McDonald’s clarified.

“As the matter is before the court, it would be inappropriate to respond to the specific allegations at this time.

“We continue to work closely with our restaurants to ensure employees receive all correct workplace entitlements and pay.”

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has been targeted for breaching its workers’ rights, with RAFFWU launching a class action lawsuit against the fast food giant in October last year, claiming it had withheld rest breaks for 250,000 staff across its network.

“This breach could be the tip of the iceberg with potentially hundreds of thousands of staff, both past and present, affected, if McDonald’s and its franchisees have breached the Fair Work Act across the board,” said Shine Lawyers’ Vicky Antzoulatos, class action practice leader, who is working with RAFFWU on the case.

“Every Australian McDonald’s worker has the legal right to a paid break when working a shift of four hours or more. This is in addition to workers’ rights to access the toilet or to take a drink of water outside scheduled breaks.”

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