New Zealand: Unite says McDonald’s is cheating workers of their holiday entitlements
June 13th, 2018 by Massimo

New Zealand IUF-affiliated Unite Union has accused McDonald’s of deliberately denying many workers their legal entitlement for working a public holiday as determined by the Holidays Act.

In 2015, Unite wrote to the company questioning how they calculated annual leave and asking them to comply with New Zealand law. McDonald’s rejected the union’s claim that they were denying workers their legal entitlements. Unite took their case to the Employment Relations Authority, the body charged with determining such disputes. In 2017 McDonald’s   was inspected by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment over non-compliance with the Holidays Act. Unite then made an urgent wage and time record request to the company to obtain the information needed to provide the Ministry with evidence that the company was routinely denying entitlement.

The union assessed that on average each McDonald’s worker did not receive their public holiday entitlement at least twice a year at a value of approximately NZD 150 for each worker. Nine thousands workers were affected making a savings to the company of over NZD 1M through cheating workers of their legal entitlements.

McDonald’s was not the only fast food operator to incorrectly apply the Holidays Act. At the end of 2017, New Zealand’s Employment Relations Authority ruled on a case brought by the Labour Inspector against Wendy’s following a complaint from a Unite member. Unite National Director Mike Treen commented that “This legal case last year against Wendy’s confirmed that the formula that was being used by that company and had been used for many years by McDonald’s was wrong in determining ‘what was an otherwise working day’ which is the legal basis for earning lieu days or pay for a public holiday.”

Unite has a long history of fighting for the rights of fast food workers in New Zealand.

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