KFC policy lets it ditch disabled

By Amanda Snow

Bob Van Lunenburg's daughter Tanya lost her job at KFC's Birkenhead store. Photo / Getty Images
Bob Van Lunenburg's daughter Tanya lost her job at KFC's Birkenhead store. Photo / Getty Images

Details of the way a fast food giant is axing disabled workers can be revealed today.

The Herald on Sunday has obtained documents outlining how KFC demands staff be capable of all duties to an "All Star" level. The company also confirms it is disestablishing "limited duties roles".

MPs, the Unite Union and disability support groups say this deliberately targets disabled workers.

A restructure proposal given to one sacked disabled employee states there will be "no one specifically doing limited duties". The document states the company must meet food and health safety obligations.

Unite spokesman Mike Treen said he was outraged to learn that "confidential" settlements were being negotiated with more disabled workers. "KFC is trying to cover up their mistaken policy rather than deal with it openly," he said, adding that he knew of 10 workers affected but suspected the number was far higher.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern has written to the Human Rights Commission calling for an investigation following Herald on Sunday revelations this month.

"The company's 'catch-all policy' is unfair and unjust. If it were applied to any other workplace we would find many employees would not meet such a test."

Green Party disability issues spokeswoman, Mojo Mathers, said Restaurant Brands' policy was discriminatory.

"They exclude from employment many disabled people who may have a lot to contribute to the workforce but cannot tick all the boxes for the skills. I will be pursuing it."

Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy said the company had offered support for those who needed to be moved into other jobs or activities. "We have not made changes to our employment policy but disestablished limited duties roles."


After 18 years' service - no job

Bob Van Lunenburg broke into tears when KFC put off his intellectually-disabled daughter after nearly 18 years on the job.

Van Lunenburg, 83, says Tanya was fired from KFC in Birkenhead where she'd worked two afternoons a week packing potato and gravy.

"That was her whole life and it gave her something to look forward to," he said. A KFC outlet management told him Tanya, 48, could not help at the front counter and so her job had been discontinued.

"I went outside and cried."

He says a subsequent mediation meeting was unsuccessful. "I told them, how you could ever do that to a girl like Tanya is beyond all belief."

Van Lunenburg had a sleepless night churning over what he "should have said".

"I thought if only I'd said more, I might have been able to help her keep her job."

Tanya's sister Nikki says her sibling loved putting her uniform on and was proud of her job. "For her it was very significant."

- Herald on Sunday

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