McDonald’s has become the first Australia-wide company to offer unpaid maternity or paternity leave to casual staff, in accordance with a new company policy announced yesterday (13 November).

The decision to allow 12 months leave for those who have worked at McDonald’s for more than one year has been heralded by campaign groups as deserving recognition. Susan Halliday, Australian Sexual Discrimination Commissioner, believes the policy makes up for the lack of government legislation.

It also benefits the US fastfood behemoth, of course, which employs over 40,000 long-term casual workers, making up a high ratio against the numbers of its fulltime staff members. And with the presence of casual labour growing in this sector, the policy may well prove to be the example that many other companies will follow.