Wendy’s worker wins lieu day battle for all staff

SUCCESS: Hornby woman Rose Williams has won a three-year battle against Wendy's to give their employees days in lieu when they work on public holidays. PHOTO: ANDREW KING.

A woman has won a three-year battle with a fast food company to ensure employees across the country get their days in lieu.

Wendy’s, which has 23 outlets in New Zealand, including one in Hereford St and in Hornby, has breached two sections of the Holidays Act 2003.

Wendy’s employee Rose Williams went to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment three years ago with the lieu day issue after she had been working at the Hornby restaurant for a year.

Mrs Williams said Wendy’s staff were not being given a lieu day after working on a public holiday. She told Nor’West News it feels “pretty good” to win the case.

Unite Union, of which Mrs Williams is a delegate, has estimated it would cost Wendy’s $1.6 million to pay back employees’ leiu days.

MBIE senior labour inspector Kim Baldwin found Wendy’s breached section 56 and 60 of the Holidays Act.

Section 56 says an alternative holiday must be provided to an employee who works on a public holiday if that day would otherwise have been a working day for them.

Section 60 sets out how those employees should be paid for the alternative holiday.

Wendy’s has been ordered to comply with the two sections, conduct a review of its restaurants and keep records of staff contacted, rosters and leave.

It has been ordered to give all past and present employees from the Hornby and Dunedin restaurants their alternative holidays, or the equivalent pay since the restaurants were opened.

Wendy’s has also been ordered to do the same for all other restaurants across the country backdated to July 1, 2012.

Unite Union national secretary Gerard Hehir said it was “very happy” with the result.

“We think it has significance beyond our dispute with Wendy’s actually,” he said.

Mr Hehir said it’s hard to establish what would be a person’s normal working day in hospitality because of their variable shift work.

“The problem we have with Wendy’s is they said no-one was entitled to one [an alternative holiday] at all, because hours changed occasionally,” Mr Hehir said.

He admired how tenacious Mrs Williams was throughout the trial. Mrs Williams left a job at Countdown to raise her son Josh after her husband Murray died in a speedway crash 14 years ago. She said her late husband was racing a sidecar at Ruapuna Speedway when he crashed and died instantly.

She started working at Hornby Wendy’s four years ago.

She said public holidays are the restaurant’s busiest days and it wasn’t fair to not get a day in lieu for working them.

She plans to continue working at Wendy’s and has not encountered any problems while standing up for her rights.

Wendy’s head office could not respond before deadline yesterday.