Company claims it takes legal obligations 'very seriously'
KFC Australia is facing a class action lawsuit from workers who claim that they were not given rest breaks which they are entitled to as detailed in an enterprise agreement.
The employer failed to give workers 10-minute breaks when they work shifts that last for more than four hours, according to reports.
“Workers are suing for the value of lost breaks and for the loss of amenity and the stress placed on workers as a result of working in these pressure-cooker environments and not having proper breaks,” said Vicky Antzoulatos, Shine Lawyers joint head of class actions, according to a report from news.com.au.
“One client who worked 3-5 shifts per week at two KFC franchises in Victoria from June 2016 to November 2021, claims she took up smoking just to get a break,” she said, according to the report.
Paid rest breaks taken ‘very seriously’
Asked about the class action filed against them, a KFC Australia spokesperson told Today:
"KFC Australia takes all obligations under the Fair Work Act and KFC National Enterprise Agreement very seriously, including the obligation to allow employees to take the paid rest breaks they are entitled to.
"We will be responding to the claim made in the federal court in due course."
Shine Lawyers and the Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union (RAFFWU) filed the claim in the federal court.
Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) dealt with the case of a worker who said his employer violated his workplace right when he was dismissed allegedly for taking a break.
Rejected work break request
Lily O’Sullivan, who worked at an Illawarra region outlet in NSW from 2019-2020, is among those who said her request for a break was rejected.
“I remember raising my right to a 10-minute break, ‘No, we don’t do those here’, as if it was optional,” she said she was told, via the news.com.au.
“It was shut down so swiftly that after chatting to colleagues, I quickly realised it wasn’t something I could ask for again.”
According to a statement from the joint head of class actions, KFC workers are entitled to a paid 10-minute break after four hours of work and a second paid break after eight hours "pursuant to the various industrial instruments under which they are employed,” according to a Today report. This is noted under a 2020 enterprise agreement, according to news.com.au.
According to RAFFWU, the denial of breaks was widespread across KFC.
“Up until a couple of years ago, every single KFC worker in every single franchise we spoke to was not getting these 10-minute paid breaks,” Josh Cullinan, RAFFWU secretary, told news.com.au.
“In these workplaces we’re talking about kids, the vast majority of whom are under 18 or 21. These kids are not only working in their first job but also in a hot, fast paced environment. They have the right to take a break.”