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McDonald's 'underpaying' its Australian workers tens of millions of dollars a year

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McDonald's 'underpaying' its Australian workers tens of millions of dollars a year under a union deal that excludes weekend penalty rates.

Fast food giant McDonald's is reportedly underpaying its Australian workers tens of millions of dollars a year under a deal with Labor's union affiliate that excludes weekend penalty rates.

An investigation by The Age revealed the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) negotiated an agreement in 2013.

In the agreement, some McDonald's employees are being paid nearly one-third less than the award wage - the minimum pay and conditions safety net.

The findings are based on payslips and a roster obtained by Fairfax Media that is said to show 63 per cent of workers at a large Sydney store are paid less than the award wage.

Workers at McDonald's appear to be out of pocket by at least $50 million a year and those affected ear as little as $10.08 an hour.

The national agreement restricts late-night rates to a 10 per cent loading from 1am-5am.

Penalty rates of 25 per cent apply on Saturday, rates of 50 per cent apply on Sunday (75 per cent for casuals) and there are higher night shift loadings from 9pm-5am.

Under the McDonald's/SDA deal, workers mostly receive slightly higher hourly wages than the award.

However this is not enough to cover the penalties most of those who do any night or weekend work would otherwise receive.

McDonalds spokesman Chris Grant said it was 'wrong' to suggest McDonald's underpaid its workers.

He said the union deal meant higher base pay rates across the entire week 'as opposed to penalty rates that only apply to limited timeframes', and included benefits beyond the award, such as better leave and annual pay increases.

'We are a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week business and our employees tell us they love the flexible working hours we provide,' Mr Grant said.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer disputed the findings and said McDonald's workers had voted for 'significantly higher base rates of pay' to compensate for the lack of penalty rates. 

A spokeswoman for the Fair Work Commission said they had improved the timeliness and certainty of agreement applications over the past year.

'We have also published a large number of resource materials on the website to assist parties when negotiating agreements,' she said.

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