George Calombaris fined $200k for underpaying staff $8m

George Calombaris has been fined $200,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman as his restaurant group’s underpayment of staff blows out to nearly $8 million.

Calombaris must also pay for audits for all his Australian restaurants and has been forced to become an ambassador for the Fair Work Commission.

A four-year investigation by Fair Work found Made Establishment underpaid 515 staff $7.83 million, much higher than the previous estimate by the group that 162 workers had been underpaid $2.6 million because of “historically poor processes”.

Made Establishment’s restaurants include Jimmy Grants, The Press Club and Gazi, which were found to have made a raft of breaches including a failure to pay minimum award rates, overtime and other allowances.

“The incorrect payments were identified by Made during a review in early 2017, following a change in ownership and management,” the group said.

“After an investigation, the FWO confirmed Made’s finding that employees had been incorrectly classified and underpaid due to incorrect processes and failures within its payroll and human resources functions.”

Made Group chief executive Leigh Small said they had made sweeping changes to rectify their payroll failures.

“All current Made team members have been correctly classified, and all entitlements verified as owing to current and past employees have been calculated and paid, with a handful of claims now being finalised,” he said.

“Since changing ownership, we have introduced a new CEO, a new people and culture director and new processes and procedures to ensure we’re not only complying with workplace relations laws but actively promoting a culture of employee wellbeing.

“We look forward to continuing to grow our business and providing all team members with the tools, education and environment to succeed in their careers for years to come.”

Under Fair Work’s Enforceable Undertaking (EU), Calombaris will complete speaking engagements to educate the restaurant industry on the importance of workplace compliance

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that EU would ensure improved wages and record-keeping practices were locked in at the Made group.

“The Court-Enforceable Undertaking commits Made Establishment to stringent measures to ensure that current and future employees across their restaurant group are paid correctly,” 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.”