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Know your rights: fast food workers

Fast food industry workers are entitled to the same right to a safe and healthy work environment as any other Australian worker. With workers often young and inexperienced in the workplace, they may be taken advantage of due to a lack of knowledge around their fast food employee rights. Here’s an explanation of the basic legal rights fast food employees have in the workplace and what to do if those rights are being ignored.  

Fast food employee rights 

Every worker in Australia has basic rights at work, regardless of their visa status or type of employment.  

Fast food workers have a right to a safe workplace, including rights to:  

  • Be shown how to work safely 
  • Appropriate safety equipment 
  • Be consulted about safety in the workplace 

At the same time, fast food workers have the right to actively engage with their employer over safety concerns. This includes the right to:  

  • Speak up about work conditions 
  • Refuse to perform unsafe work 

Beyond safety, fast food workers have rights to: 

Duty of care: fast food employer obligations 

Employers have a responsibility, known as a duty of care, to ensure the safety of their workers in the workplace. This duty involves taking reasonable precautions, including:  

  • Observing legal health and safety requirements 
  • Identifying risks and planning work safely  
  • Investigating hazard reports and taking action 
  • Ensuring workers undertake appropriate safety training 

If an employee is injured while working, employers are obligated to accommodate and assist in the rehabilitation of the worker and their return to work.  

An employer which fails in their duty of care may be found responsible for any injuries workers suffer as a result.  

Common fast food workers injuries 

The common injuries suffered by fast food workers varies based on their role and their workplace. Chefs and back-of-house staff are generally exposed to different risks than front-of-house staff.  

Some typical injuries are:

  • Burns from cooking equipment, with risk levels increased when staff are rushed during busy service periods
  • Cuts while using kitchen utensils like knives, food processors and mixers during food preparation
  • Injuries due to slipping on surfaces, possibly due to spilled liquid or incorrect cleaning procedure
  • Muscle injuries due to heavy lifting requirements beyond a worker’s capabilities
  • Physical or psychiatric injury due to work in the course of your employment
  • Repetitive strain injuries from performing the same tasks

Workers compensation in the fast food industry

If a worker is injured at their workplace, they can claim workers compensation for the costs associated with their recovery. All workers are covered by workers compensation, whether they are full-time, part-time, casual or contractors, and it is compulsory for Queensland employers to have workers compensation insurance 

Sciaccas has a proud history of representing fast food workers. If you need legal advice, contact us to speak with one of our lawyers.