By Nicholas Hartman
One of Melbourne’s most popular restaurants is under investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman for claims it underpaid its workers.
However former staff of the restaurant and its restaurant group are fretting over the time it has taken by the FWO to get their money back, as the case has been going on for two years.
Ben Redford, secretary of the United Voice union, has told the Herald Sun there are “serious concerns” over the investigation.
“Multiple former Chin Chin staff who believe they were underpaid say the Ombudsman hasn’t contacted them at all,” he said.
“We recently put detailed questions to the Ombudsman about Chin Chin to clarify if this investigation covers all restaurants at the Lucas Group, and does it go back the full six years this employer is liable for. They were unable to provide us with this information.”
Many former staff claim that the restaurant group has severed contact with them, and they fear they will not expect to get their money back.
In 2017, the restaurant group was ordered by a court to pay back a bartender $9,500, after she took them to a court over underpayments.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has confirmed that the investigation is ongoing.
The news comes in the wake of the George Calombaris’ MAdE Establishment’s settlement with FWO. MAdE was revealed to have back-paid their staff $7.8m for underpayments stretching from 2011-2017.
On Friday, bars on Melbourne’s Chapel Street were subject to a surprise raid by Fair Work Ombudsman investigators. The Fair Work Ombudsman said that the raids were also a reaction to claims of underpayments from staff and former staff of those bars.
Earlier this year, the Fair Work Ombudsman stated that it would be targeting restaurants, fast food operators and cafes in the 2019-2020 financial year.
“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,” the Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said at the time.