Protect your hours of work!

13 Feb


By Mike Treen

It is important for all fast food workers to understand their rights for secure working hours.

While there are few guaranteed hours in most employment agreements we do have clauses designed to protect workers usual hours of work. In particular we have clauses in our union negotiated collective employment agreements that should mean the employer offers existing staff the hours of work that are available before hiring new staff.

Restaurant Brands union delegates training day

The problem is that many managers don’t respect these clauses. They like to have a lot of staff on the books to bring in when they want to. It also means they try to use their control over hours to punish workers they don’t like or reward their mates. This is illegal and should be reported and stopped.

We have collective agreements with Restaurant Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Carl’s Jr), McDonald’s, Wendy’s and BK. They deal with this issue in different ways – so read carefully.

Restaurant Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, SRestaurant Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Carl’s Jr).tarbucks, Carl’s Jr).

In the Restaurant Brands Collective Agreement we agreed to the principle that “rostered hours do not vary too much from week to week” and that this is “particularly relevant for employees who rely on their income to run their household.”

We agreed that to meet this objective “the employer will endeavour to roster hours of work to minimise significant fluctuations in the hours that an employee regularly works” and that “additional hours be offered to existing employees first before new staff are hired.”

Finally, and most importantly, there is a new clause that will allow the member and the union to enforce their rights under the agreement. It reads: “Where an employee believes the rostered hours of work protocol has been breached he/she shall first raise the matter with his/her Manager. Where there is not a satisfactory outcome the employee may raise it with the appropriate Area Manager. Where there is no resolution, the employee may request the Area Manager to conduct a comparison review, that shall be provided to the employee, of the rostered hours of work for the period in dispute of both the employee’s rostered hours and other employees’ rostered hours. At any time, the employee may seek advice from a representative, a parent/guardian, delegate, Union official or other representative. Where there is still no resolution, the employee may request the Union to raise the matter with the Restaurant Brand’s Human Resource Department. If the matter cannot be resolved, it will be referred to the National Director of Unite Union and the HR Manager for Restaurant Brands.”

This clause means we can access the information we need to challenge any mistreatment by local managers who breach the agreement between the company and the union. And if we disagree the appeal ends up in the hands of the union national director (me) and the head of Restaurant Brands HR.


The collective agreement affirms the principle of the importance of “rostering employees fairly and reasonably”.

It says that “Where additional hours become available in a restaurant current employees will be offered additional shifts before new employees are employed.”

There is an added obligation that “additional shifts will be notified to employees on the crew notice board”.

Wairau Park strike for better pay and conditions in 2013

When hours have to be reduced in store then the reduction “will be uniformly applied” so they can’t cut just some members shifts while other stay the same or even get more.

Where members have problems with their shifts they can raise the matter with their manager, get their own wage and time records, and if they are not satisfied with the response have the issue escalated to the HR department who must “investigate and share relevant information.” A union representative can be involved at any stage of that process.

If the union believes there is a store wide problem it can be taken to the HR department “who will investigate and share relevant information”.

The obligation to “share relevant information” is an important obligation as it has often been difficult in the past to get information from the company regarding rosters and hours in a store.

The company has also committed to stronger education of managers and monitoring and enforcement measures, including the issue in crew questionnaires and posters in store explaining the policy and the escalation process crew can use if they aren’t happy.


From the collective agreement:

“7.2: When additional hours become available these hours should be offered to existing staff before new staff are employed. Subject to the needs of the business, minimum staffing requirements, skill level and job classification, longer serving staff will have first right of refusal of available hours (The company is not required to provide more than 40 hours in any week). If a store’s available hours decrease then any reduction of hours shall be reduced fairly across all staff. During known periods of high volume, when additional hours become available these hours will be offered to existing staff by way of a printed store memo being displayed in the Crew room.”

“7.3 Employees within the coverage of this contract with 2 years of service or more to the company are eligible to select a minimum number of guaranteed hours of work per week, providing that the minimum number is less than 30, and that the employee has open availability. Employees with open availability on six days per week are eligible to select a minimum number of hours per week providing that the minimum number is less than 25.”

Burger King

The employment agreement says BK will “endeavour to provide some consistency in hours of work” for Team members with 2 years service, are Level 3 proficient and worked an average of 20 hours a week or more. This group cannot have their hours varied by 25% in any week.

Protest at anti-union campaign run by BK in 2012

Those with one years service, level 3 and usually work 20 hours, will have first choice “when additional shifts become available”. Before new staff are hired additional shifts “will be clearly notified on the crew noticeboard.”

In the event that there is a reduction in sales at your restaurant, hours will be dropped fairly and evenly across all workers. This can avoid a situation where some workers have their hours cut so severely that they feel they need to leave the job and look for work elsewhere because they can’t pay their bills.



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