The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) has lodged a Federal Court action against the franchisee of three McDonald's stores in Melbourne's south-east for not giving paid breaks. The proceedings have been launched against Victorian franchisee Liesary Pty Ltd, which operates three stores across the state, on the grounds it deliberately withheld its workers’ rights from them.
According to the reports, it is the seventh McDonald’s franchisee to be targeted across Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia.
The SDA has shared in media that it has garnered hundreds of formal statements from past and present McDonald’s employees against the employer's alleged illegal behaviour.
“It’s shameful that one of the biggest employers of young Australians has deliberately been denying basic entitlements to thousands of workers,” said SDA Victoria Secretary Michael Donovan.
Donovan further shared in the media that the union is now looking at taking action against other franchisees in both regional Victoria and Melbourne. "We're very concerned that information we're getting indicates this is a systemic problem within the McDonald's company," Donovan added.
McDonald's workers are meant to be given a 10-minute paid break for shifts longer than 4 hours, and two paid ten-minute breaks for shifts more than 9 hours, in addition to unpaid meal breaks. The union has estimated the workers, in this case, were each owed roughly $1,000.
However, according to the statements reported by ABC News, McDonald's issued a public statement sharing "Our restaurants provide paid rest breaks to employees in ways which are compliant with the applicable instrument and consistent with historic working arrangements at McDonald's restaurants.
The statement further added, "Prior to the commencement of recent proceedings, McDonald's was not aware of any widespread complaints or disputes being raised by employees with respect to the taking of rest breaks."
Recently, employees came forward sharing their stories on media platforms on being denied a paid rest break. Ben who works at McDonald's in Oakleigh South, in Melbourne's south-east alleges that in the three years he worked in the kitchen of the fast-food outlet, he never received a paid rest break. He was quoted saying, "It does feel, in a way, that you've been taken advantage of, or it was something that should have definitely been communicated to everyone."