Just 10 of McDonald’s 100,000 Australian workers were found to be underpaid over two years, prompting the workplace watchdog to laud the fast food giant’s compliance record.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said her agency received just 33 requests for help from McDonald’s workers in the two years to June, with wages totalling $33,619 backpaid to the 10 workers.
Of the rest, 11 required no further action, nine complaints were not sustained, two were resolved without any payment, and a former employee’s complaint about a stolen mobile phone was referred to police.
McDonald’s Australia has been under scrutiny over its enterprise agreements with the shop assistants union that trade off penalty rates for higher base pay.
The union has denied claims by rivals that staff are being paid below award rates.
Documents filed recently by McDonald’s in the Fair Work Commission show almost 53,000 of its “crew members” were aged 14 to 17. They are paid “junior rates” ranging from 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the weekly wage applying to employees over 21.
Critics argue the pay deal with the union makes it easier for McDonald’s to meet its compliance requirements, but Ms James said the company should be commended for achieving “outstanding compliance rates”, given that
85 per cent of employees were younger than 22.
She will today tell the Franchising Council of Australia’s national convention that McDonald’s is staying “ahead of the curve” by publicly demonstrating its strong commitment to compliance.
In contrast to McDonald’s workers, she said young people were generally over-represented in complaints to her agency. One in every four requests for help came from a worker under 25. “So it’s an extraordinarily low number of McDonald’s employees who are raising concerns,” she said.
McDonald’s Australia director, Hayley Baxendale, said complying with legal obligations was essential to the company’s values. “As an employer of more than 100,000 people, and Australia’s largest employer of youth, we know we have a great responsibility to ensure our employees are being paid correctly with appropriate working conditions,” she said.