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McDonald’s faces potential class action for allegedly withholding rest breaks

Fast Food giant McDonald’s could be facing a class action lawsuit due to allegedly withholding rest breaks to 250,000 staff that work four hours or more in a shift, according the the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union.

In collaboration with Shine Lawyers, RAFFWU is investigating a potential breach of the McDonald’s Australia Enterprise Bargaining Agreement 2013 and the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 on behalf of McDonald’s employees who claim the restaurant didn’t provide paid 10-minute rest breaks.

The investigation follows a Federal Court decision made in August, 2020, that found a former employee had not been provided with adequate rest breaks and that the relevant franchisee had misrepresented the nature of the breaks the employee was entitled to.

McDonald’s has said the franchisee unintentionally breached the agreements which didn’t result in any underpayments, and that processes have been put in place to ensure ongoing compliance.

“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.

“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.”

One former McDonald’s employee quoted said they had been pressured to work through their owed-break, and to avoid toilet or water breaks, because they felt they were being made out to be “letting [the] team down by being a trouble-maker.”

RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan said the breaches could point to a nationwide problem that has massive implications for the restaurant.

“They’ve got young, vulnerable and hardworking crews locked into a huge system that appears to be great for McDonald’s but is crippling the workers,” Mr Cullinan said.

McDonald’s confirmed to Inside Retail that it has yet to receive any notification of a class action, and that the business offers a dedicated hotline for any McDonald’s employee who may have queries regarding their employment conditions.

“We remain committed to working with our employees and franchisees to ensure any concerns are addressed,” the business said.

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