By Nicholas Hartman
Another celebrity chef’s restaurant empire may face the same fate as MADE Establishment, whose court-enforceable undertaking (EU) was made public yesterday. That EU includes $7.8 million in back-payments for previously underpaid wages and a $200,000 donation to the Commonwealth Consolidated Fund.
The Age reports that this restaurant empire is currently “subject of a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation…for having systematically underpaid staff.”
According to the report, the business agreed to back-pay staff $1.6 million to staff last year, for one year of underpayment. Since then, it has back-paid for a further four years. The amounts paid out haven’t been made public, but The Age reports that could be up to $10 million.
However, the payments made to employees are “a fraction of what [current and former chefs] are owed”. Figures of back-payment are given of around $2000 a year per employee. It is believed that any final payout could be much larger.
This news follows in the wake of news of MADE Establishment’s EU being released yesterday.
That settlement was lead by a $200,000 “contrition payment”, and as usual, also includes provisions for MADE to engage an external auditor for the next three years to maintain workplace compliance and provide all management and HR staff with workplace relations training.
MADE must also implement new payroll and compliance systems in their 15 restaurants. Celebrity chef George Calombaris, who is associated with MADE, must also undertake seven speaking arrangements on the topic of workplace compliance, in front of prominent restaurant industry audiences.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has sounded out a warning to businesses about the costs of compliance.
“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.
“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.