McDonald’s’ bid to temporarily slash its fast-food workers’ pay in exchange for greater job security has been approved by the Fair Work Commission.
The move would see around 107,000 workers’ pay cut during the pandemic and until 31 July. The move was backed by the Australian Industry Group (AIG), the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).
"We accept that the proposed variation may result in low paid employees receiving less pay than they would for the same hours under the current terms of the award," Justice Ross wrote in the decision.
Justice Ross acknowledged workers would have a harder time meeting their needs, but the changes would keep “as many employees as possible in employment".
The pay cut was opposed by the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, who said it was an “attack” on fast-food worker rights.
“They are trying to implement the very clause the Fair Work Commission rejected as casualising part time work in 2019. A case we fought tooth and nail - defeating the SDA's attack on workers,” the Union stated.
“This time there is no evidence for the change and no time for workers to defend themselves. The application specifically targets visa workers who are not eligible for JobKeeper too. It's an outrageous attack on worker rights.”
The changes would mean part-time workers could have their hours reduced to a minimum of eight hours per week, and then be offered additional shifts without the overtime pay rates.
The changes to the default fast-food industry pay would also allow businesses to ask fast-food employees to take annual leave and unpaid leave. Employees can only refuse if the request is deemed “unreasonable”.
Employees who are stood down will be allowed to request to take on secondary employment, professional development or training, and bosses can’t refuse unless that request is also unreasonable.
"It is in everyone’s interests to preserve the viability of businesses and preserve as many jobs as possible during the COVID-19 crisis, and this is the objective of the proposed award variations,” AIG CEO Innes Willox said.
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