McDonald's, Burger King threatened with legal action over zero-hour contracts

McDonald's next to Britomart in Auckland's CBD (file)
McDonald's next to Britomart in Auckland's CBD (file)

A union which represents fast food workers has threatened to take Burger King and McDonald's to court, accusing them of using contracts which break the law.

The union, Unite, said on Monday it was pleased that Restaurant Brands had announced it was ditching flexible hours and offering its staff fixed hours week to week.

Since April last year, the company's franchises - KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr, and Starbucks - have guaranteed workers they'll be rostered on for at least 80 percent of their average number of hours they work each week. That'll now be 100 percent, with fixed shifts.

Unite director Mike Treen says it'll give employees the chance to plan their lives, without having to be on-call.

"We think it's fantastic, and the amendments to the collective agreement were approved by 99 percent of our members," he told Newshub.

"They are moving from a more flexible hours agreement - where we had some guaranteed hours arising from our negotiations last year - to a 100 percent guaranteed hours, guaranteed shifts and fixed shifts, going forward. There's no variability from week-to-week, no so-called flexibility."

The Government outlawed zero-hour contracts earlier this year, but Mr Treen says Burger King and McDonald's are still using them.

"We're having real problems with them. It's a real contrast... we can't even get them to implement their agreements from last year. They're trying to cheat it. We're very disappointed in that."

He says Unite will take legal action to get the companies to comply with the law.

"Burger King and McDonald's are trying to cheat their own workers out of what they're legally and contractually obliged to do."

McDonalds says it hasn't been asked to amend the 2015 collective employment agreement it has with Unite Union.