The SDA – one of Australia’s largest unions – has lodged a groundbreaking claim in the Federal Court against global fast food chain, McDonald’s Australia for deliberately denying workers paid rest breaks and misleading workers about their rights.
The claim, on behalf of 338 current and former McDonald’s crew employed across 92 McDonald’s restaurants directly owned and operated by McDonald’s Australia, has the potential to impact thousands of workers nation-wide and deliver millions in compensation.
Commencing in South Australia, this is the ninth Federal Court action by the SDA against McDonald’s operations, with the previous eight claims lodged against franchise operators.
These claims are, collectively, the biggest of their kind in Australian history, with thousands of McDonald’s workers openly coming forward to stand up against systemic exploitation and deception.
The SDA is seeking that workers are paid compensation for working through their breaks and that McDonald’s is penalised by the court for breaching the Fair Work Act.
The SDA is alleging McDonald’s Australia is complicit in the systemic exploitation of workers and misrepresentation of their rights across company-owned and franchisee-run restaurants.
Along with concealing their break entitlements, many McDonald’s told workers they could have a free soft drink in lieu of a paid rest break and that they didn’t receive rest breaks as they could go to the toilet or have a drink whenever they needed to.
At McDonald’s, workers must receive a paid 10-minute break if they work 4 hours or more. In December 2021, the SDA also amended all of its existing Federal Court claims against Franchisees to include McDonald’s Australia, alleging that the multi-billion-dollar company conspired to deliberately deny workers their breaks, and aided and abetted franchisees in this practice.
The SDA is now seeking compensation for almost 900 current and former McDonald’s workers across over 110 sites across the country.
Thousands of past and present McDonald’s crew members have reached out to discuss concerns about their time at McDonalds.
The SDA is continuing to investigate these contraventions at all other McDonald’s sites and encourages anyone who has worked at McDonald’s in the past 6 years to visit national.sda.com.au/maccas to get involved.
Quotes attributable to SDA National Secretary, Gerard Dwyer
“This is a groundbreaking moment for some of the most vulnerable workers across the country.”
“This marks the first time in Australian history that thousands of McDonald’s workers have stood up – without concealing their identities – against this global conglomerate and called out this exploitation.”
“The fact that one of the largest employers of young Australians (on junior rates of pay) has been deliberately and systematically denying teenagers their breaks is astonishing.”
“It takes a lot of courage to openly stand up and speak out against their employer and the SDA is proud to stand with them in ensuring these workers get what they’re owed.”
Quotes attributable to SDA South Australian Branch Secretary, Josh Peak
“McDonald’s have been feeding crew members a cock and bull story about their break entitlements for too long.”
“Fast food restaurants are busy, hot and the work is exhausting – it’s shameful to think young workers have been denied their rightful breaks and told they don’t exist.”
“Paid rest and drink breaks aren’t optional, they’re a right for all fast food workers.”
“McDonald’s is one of the largest employers of young people in Australia and they have a duty to their workers. They must do better.”
“It shouldn’t have to take nine Federal Court claims for McDonald’s to clean up their act.”
Media Contacts: Jim Middleton – 0418 627 066