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Give workers a break: McDonald's faces potential class action

Shine Lawyers has joined the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) to investigate a potential class action against McDonald’s over the company’s failure to provide its employees with paid rest breaks.

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

The investigation follows a decision by the Federal Court on August 31, 2020, which found former employee Chiara Staines was not provided with paid rest breaks when working shifts four hours or longer. It also found that the franchisee misrepresented the nature of the breaks Ms Staines was entitled to.

Class Actions Practice Leader Vicky Antzoulatos said Shine Lawyers is looking at whether Ms Staines’ case - brought by the RAFFWU - is representative of a systemic failure by McDonald’s.

“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,” Ms Antzoulatos said.

"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.”

Darcy Dunlop, 22, worked at McDonald’s for over four years and had progressed to the role of Area Leader when he was refused paid breaks for his team members at the Erina fast-food franchise in NSW, in 2018.

“You can’t sit, you can’t lean, you can’t go to the toilet without permission or get a drink water, and if you ask for your owed break to be rostered in, you look like you’re letting your whole team down by being a trouble-maker,” Mr Dunlop said.

“Your stress levels rise, the kitchen feels hotter, the finish line to a shift feels even further away, and I know this impacts on workers right across Australia, which is why I urge everyone to get involved.”

RAFFWU Secretary, Josh Cullinan, said a potential nationwide breach of agreement could have mass implications.

“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.

“When we litigated Ms Staines’ case she was paid over $1800 in compensation and we believe her experience is the average experience for a quarter of a million Australian workers who have worked at McDonald’s since September 2014.”

Current and former McDonald’s workers who have worked at the food outlet from September 2014 to date are eligible to register their interest for this potential class action online at:

To learn more about the McDonald’s Breaks Class Action Investigation and find out if you are eligible to join, please click here.

Media Contact: Alina Derevyanko | 0466 358 812 | [email protected]

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