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Masterchef judge George Calombaris’s Melbourne restaurant company has been fined $200,000 and has been forced to backpay workers over $7.8 million in wages and superannuation following enforcement action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Fair Work inspectors investigated the MADE Establishment Pty Ltd (MADE) group of companies following disclosure of underpayments at Press Club and Gazi restaurants in the Melbourne CBD and Hellenic Republic restaurants in KewWilliamstown and  Brunswick.

The FWO extended its investigation to some restaurants operated by Jimmy Grants Pty Ltd, 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. 

Inspectors also found that the MADE group companies and some Jimmy Grants sites did not pay some staff at the correct classification level for their duties under the Restaurant Industry Award, which particularly affected casual employees.

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.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that “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.”

George Calombaris must complete speaking engagements to educate the restaurant industry on the importance of workplace compliance and MADE Establishment must also fund external auditors to check pay and conditions for workers across the entire group every year until 2022.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman is cracking down on underpayments in the Fast Food, Restaurant and Café sector, and we urge employers to check if they are paying their staff correctly” Ms Parker said.

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