Workplace compliance: McDonald’s shows how it’s done

McDonald’s Australia has achieved outstanding compliance rates over the past two years. That’s the view of the Fair Work Ombudsman which lauds the company for making workplace compliance a high priority.

Compliance Partnerships

McDonald’s signed the Fair Work Ombudsman’s first Compliance Partnership in 2011, with the franchise chain self-auditing about 8500 pay packets to reveal 100 per cent compliance for wages paid in 2009 and 97 percent for wages paid in 2010.

A second Compliance Partnership in 2014 saw McDonald’s committing to continue to review and evolve systems and deliver further improvement in the way it manages its workplace relations.

The second Partnership also included an agreement for the Fair Work Ombudsman to refer requests for assistance it receives from McDonald’s employees back to the company for resolution internally, to the satisfaction of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James has revealed that in the two years ending in June, 2016 the agency had received just 33 requests for assistance – out of a national McDonald’s workforce of about 100,000 workers.

Of the 22 requests referred to McDonald’s for review:

  • 10 matters were voluntarily rectified with a total $33,619 paid to employees;

  • nine matters were found not to be sustained;

  • two matters were resolved without the need for payments to be made; and

  • one former employee who alleged a mobile phone was stolen was advised to contact the police.

James told the Franchising Council of Australia’s national convention that in an environment of increasing scrutiny of franchises, McDonald’s is staying “ahead of the curve” by publicly demonstrating its strong commitment to compliance.

Putting steps in place for workplace compliance

The results achieved by McDonald’s are particularly notable as 85 percent of its workers are aged under 22.

“We know that people starting out in the workforce can be unaware of the rules and less likely to challenge the boss if they think something isn’t right,” James says.  

“It’s worth noting that in contrast to what we’ve seen from McDonald’s, young people are generally over-represented in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s complaints. One in every four requests for assistance we receive comes from a person under the age of 25.

“So it’s an extraordinarily low number of McDonald’s employees who are raising concerns.

“McDonald’s has put a range of steps in place – auditing of its franchises, an employee hotline, state of the art time recording to ensure that workers get paid for every hour they work.

“McDonald’s didn’t wait for workplace compliance issues to blow up in their face – they were proactive in their engagement with us.

“This is an approach to be congratulated and we think this will pay dividends for the business, its franchisees, its employees and the community.”

McDonald’s Australia director of people and culture Hayley Baxendale says complying with legal obligations and always striving for continuous improvement are essential parts of 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,” Blaxendale says.

“Our partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman highlights our commitment to continuous improvement and ongoing transparency.”

Working with the Fair Work Ombudsman

McDonald’s provides full annual reports on all matters it handles to the Fair Work Ombudsman, including the number of complaints, the time taken to resolve them and any underpayments rectified.

All McDonald’s employees have been advised of the initiative via the company’s internal website.

Ms James says the Fair Work Ombudsman is keen to work with businesses that want to make compliance with workplace laws part of their brand.

“With the Government proposing new laws to capture franchisors that fail to deal with exploitation of workers by their franchisees, the Fair Work Ombudsman would be pleased to work with any franchise ready to take action to show it takes compliance with workplace laws throughout its network seriously,” she said.

  • Other franchises to enter into Compliance Partnerships with the Fair Work Ombudsman include La Porchetta, Dominos, JB Hifi, the Coffee Club and Breadtop.