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‘Don’t leave no matter how busy’: Burger King staff asked to work for free

(Source: Getty, NZ Herald)

A Burger King manager in New Zealand has suggested staff continue to work even after their shift has ended.

A screenshot of a WhatsApp group of managers at the burger chain’s Queen Street store in Auckland reveals a manager encouraging workers to stay back to finish work, apparently without pay, as first reported by New Zealand Herald.

“Don’t leave your job no matter how busy please finish your job before [sic] you leave,” the message reads.

The manager goes on to reference an unidentified worker, who stayed back after clocking off to finish orders.

“If she can do it we can do that as well. Please,” the message reads.

(Source: NZ Herald)

A worker at the store, who didn’t wish to be identified, said she found the message “very discouraging”.

“It's saying clock out and finish work for free. No, that's not us,” the Burger King worker told NZ Herald.

“I will get paid for whatever amount of work I do. If they're expecting me to work for free, sorry, I'm not going to do that. I will just finish my shift and leave.”

The staffer said she had flagged the message with store management last week as well as emailing the screenshot to her area manager, her restaurant manager and New Zealand’s Unite Union, a union for fast food and retail workers.

However, she did not see any action taken, the NZ Herald reported, and was then removed from the group chat after complaining and believes the WhatsApp group has since been disbanded.

Unite Union national director Mike Treen said the union have had a collective agreement with Burger King for over a decade, yet disagreed with the company’s actions.

"That's not an acceptable request. That's an unlawful request because it's asking people to clock out and continue working," Treen said.

“This is a constant problem we've had with fast food companies over the years.”

Burger King NZ head of marketing Jake Shand said in a statement to NZ Herald that the restaurant had conducted an internal investigation.

“The restaurant manager has sent out an email to motivate the staff and the email was taken out of context. We are confident the Burger King manager has not asked the staff to work without pay and this was a miscommunication.

“We have refreshed the management team with the policy on staffing and would like to reiterate that Burger King does not ask people to work without pay.”

Burger King’s Australian subsidiary is called Hungry Jack’s.

Yahoo Finance has contacted the Australia's Union for Retail, Fast Food and Warehouse Workers for comment.

Working for no pay in Australia ‘unlawful’: Union

Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) secretary Josh Cullinan told Yahoo Finance the issue of workers not receiving payment for additional hours worked was rife across retail and fast food outlets in Australia.

“It is a major issue and is unlawful,” he said.

“If there is an expectation or requirement to perform a specific task irrespective of how long it takes, it must be paid. Otherwise the structure descends into piece rate payments.”

Cullinan said RAFFWU had run campaigns and achieved outcomes for members on similar issues for workers at Woolworths, Coles, McDonalds, Bakers Delight and other retailers.

One oft-overlooked example of work undertaken without pay was the completion of online training modules at home, he said.

“However, other examples include compelling workers to attend cleanup days, requiring workers to close tills or shops after roster end, requiring workers to attend early or not giving workers their lawful breaks.”

Workers who have been treated unfairly in their workplace can make anonymous report to the Fair Work Ombudsman on its website, but Cullinan suggested the FWO had been ineffective.

“In Australia we have found the only place for retail or fast food workers to turn is the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union or an experienced (expensive) law firm.

“The cases we have brought to the attention of the Fair Work Ombudsman have not resulted in satisfactory outcomes for workers.”

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