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McDonald's worker wins compo for smoko injury

Brisbane Central Station McDonald’s fast food restaurant. (Photo by: Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

McDonald’s will have to pay compensation to a former Queensland staffer for a broken leg she suffered during a cigarette break.

The burger chain’s Richlands store, in outer Brisbane, required staff to show up 10 minutes before their shift, which Mandep Sarkaria complied with on November 1, 2016.

During the idle time before her work commenced, Sarkaria climbed up a 3-metre ladder in the storeroom to climb onto the roof for a smoke, which she had done many times previously.

But on the way down she slipped and broke her leg, according to court documents.

Although the ladder was regularly used by managers and staff for cleaning duties, at the time of the accident there was a sign that warned against ascending to the rooftop.

Sarkaria had previously unsuccessfully applied for workers’ compensation through WorkCover then Queensland Industrial Relations Commission — but this week the Industrial Court of Queensland upheld her appeal.

Justice Glenn Martin ruled that the injury did occur during the course of Sarkaria’s work, as her employer forced her to show up 10 minutes before her actual shift.

“Although none of the employees at the restaurant would serve a customer, or cook food,
or lift a mop from the time they arrived until their shift commenced they had, in my view,
commenced work,” said Martin in his judgment.

The decision could be a potential precedent for any worker that is compelled to show up to work before their actual hours begin.

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