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McDonald’s has been hit with a mammoth wage theft claim in Australia

McDonald’s is facing a $250 million wage theft claim after a union representing its employees claimed they were denied their right to paid breaks.

This week, The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) filed documents in federal court seeking damages for 250,000 current and former employees of the fast food giant.

Employees are entitled to a 10-minute paid break if they work four hours or more, and two breaks if they work more than nine hours.

But the SDA claims that staff at hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants in Australia were not getting their designated breaks.

McDonald's faces a $250 million wage theft claim after a union representing its employees claimed they were denied their right to paid breaks

McDonald’s faces a $250 million wage theft claim after a union representing its employees claimed they were denied their right to paid breaks

The union claims that the staff were not informed of their rights and were told that if they wanted their paid break, they could not stop working to have a drink or go to the toilet.

Others were reportedly told they could get a free soft drink in lieu of their break.

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said the claim would send a signal that “systematic exploitation” of young staff would not be tolerated.

McDonald’s demands consistency in all their restaurants. They allow every restaurant to put two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun,” he said.

“It’s just unbelievable that these breaks have not been denied on purpose.”

If the claim is successful, it would be one of the largest of its kind in Australia.

South Australian SDA Branch Secretary Josh Peak said young employees should be protected.

“It’s really outrageous behavior to make young people think they can’t go to the toilet if they use their paid rights,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast.

“Employees never got their paid 10-minute break and when employees asked for it, they were told ‘we don’t do that here because you can go to the toilet whenever you want,'” which is completely ridiculous.”

An employee Isabelle, who was hired at a McDonald’s in Adelaide’s CBD, said she never got a paid drink break in the five years she worked there.

Instead, she said she could take breaks during her shift, but added that they lasted only less than a minute and she had to get back to work immediately.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) filed documents in federal court this week seeking damages for 250,000 current and former employees of the fast food giant

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) filed documents in federal court this week seeking damages for 250,000 current and former employees of the fast food giant

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) filed documents in federal court this week seeking damages for 250,000 current and former employees of the fast food giant

“I had talked to my bosses about it, and they just told us we weren’t getting them, they chose to do something else, and it was legal, it was all right,” she said.

She added that managers are often “angry” at staff when they ask to go to the toilet or have a drink.

‘I remembered thinking, what else do I need? Should I drink more or should I go to the toilet more – and then you just choose that,’ she said.

McDonald’s has denied the allegations and plans to challenge the claim.

“McDonald’s believes its restaurants adhered to applicable instruments, provided rest breaks for employees and adhered to historic work arrangements,” a spokesperson said.

‘These agreements have been known to the SDA for years. The manner of pausing has not been questioned by the SDA or raised as a concern during successive company negotiation processes for new industrial agreements.

“We are very aware of our obligations under applicable employment laws, including the former corporate agreement and the Fast Food Industry Award, and continue to work closely with our restaurants to ensure that employees receive all appropriate workplace rights and compensation.

‘We value our employees and the great contribution they make to the success of the company.’

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