Melbourne restaurant company back-pays workers $7.8m in wages and super
A major Melbourne restaurant company has back-paid workers over $7.8 million in wages and superannuation and faces ongoing regulatory scrutiny, after entering into a court-enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Under the EU, the founding and current shareholder of MAdE Establishment, celebrity chef George Calombaris, who also served as director from 2008-2018, will complete speaking engagements to educate the restaurant industry on the importance of workplace compliance.
MAdE Establishment will also make a $200,000 contrition payment to the Commonwealth government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund and must fund external auditors to check pay and conditions for workers across the entire group every year until the EU expires in 2022.
Fair Work inspectors investigated the MAdE Establishment group of companies following a self-disclosure of underpayments at several restaurants in Melbourne.
The FWO extended its investigation to some restaurants operated by Jimmy Grants, a company which shares common shareholders and directors with the MAdE group of companies.
Inspectors found that significant underpayments at the MAdE group of companies occurred because they failed to correctly apply annualised salary arrangements for some staff, including by failing to conduct annual reconciliations to check that workers on annual salary arrangements were paid for overtime and penalty rate hours worked.
MAdE Establishment back-paid $7,832,953 to 515 current or former employees of Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic for work between 2011 and 2017. A further $16,371 has been back-paid to nine employees of Jimmy Grants.
“The court-enforceable undertaking commits MAdE Establishment to stringent measures to ensure that current and future employees across their restaurant group are paid correctly,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.
“MAdE’s massive back-payment bill should serve as a warning to all employers that if they don’t get workplace compliance right from the beginning, they can spend years cleaning up the mess.”
Ms Parker added that the Fair Work Ombudsman is cracking down on underpayments in the fast food, restaurant and café sector, and urged employers to check if they are paying their staff correctly.