Adriano Zumbo is the latest celebrity chef to be caught out underpaying staff.
Zumbo employs over 200 staff across 10 outlets in Sydney and Melbourne.
But like fellow Masterchef celebrity George Calombaris, whose Melbourne restaurant group Made Establishment was forced to backpay $2.6 million to 162 staff last month, Zumbo has had to reimburse staff.
Five current and former staff claim they were given fake superannuation numbers, were paid at incorrect rates, and that overtime pay was missing. They claimed they were owed thousands of dollars.
One staff member said that when he complained repeatedly via email, the response was: “We’ll pay, we’ll pay.”
Zumbo issued a statement in response blaming a new overtime system implemented in January this year.
“As a result, a number of discrepancies were identified in the calculation, approval and payment of overtime to a limited number of staff,” he said.
He said an audit of the payroll system is now under way.
The hospitality industry has been subject to a range on underpayment scandals in recent years, including high profile names such as Melbourne hospitality legend Ronnie Di Stasio, owner of St Kilda’s Cafe Di Stasio, and the Malaysian restaurant chain Mamak, as well as fast food chains Pizza Hut and Domino’s.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) recently launched legal action against a Sydney cafÃ© operator and another on the Gold Coast for allegedly forcing overseas workers to repay thousands in wages. A Brisbane Coffee Club franchisee is also facing court for allegedly requiring an overseas worker to repay $18,000 of his wages by threatening to cancel his 457 skilled worker visa if he refused.
In February, an Albury cafÃ© owner and his business were penalised $532,000 after threatening two Indian workers with violence and deportation to coerce them into paying back more than $60,000 in wages.
The Melbourne ‘hawker-style’ restaurant Kitchen Republik, in Box Hill, was penalised $100,000 after it “grossly exploited” a visa holder from Taiwan through underpayments worth more than $30,000 in less than nine months.
The Fair Work Ombudsman says inspectors are keen to assess whether the low prices charged around the area were due to efficiencies in business practices, rather than the underpayment of entitlements.