In yet more evidence Australia’s reality cooking show infrastructure is built on a foundation of systemic wage theft, George Calombaris has been slugged with a fine after an investigation found he had underpaid workers in his restaurant empire to the tune of $7.83 million.
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) July 17, 2019
This figure is significantly larger than what Calombaris estimated back in 2017, when his company announced that 162 workers had been underpaid $2.6 million due to “historically poor processes.”
According to The Age, a four year investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that staff at Calombaris’ restaurants (including Hellenic Republic, Gazi and Jimmy Grants) were underpaid thanks to a failure to honour a whole raft of payments including penalty rates, casual loading, overtime and annual leave.
Calombaris has been ordered to pay a $200,000 “contrition fine” and also to make a series of public statements warning people about the risk of violating the Fair Work Act. Personally, I think he should upload those statements as ASMR videos to YouTube, where they would instantly become viral hits.
In addition to all of this, Calombaris’ restaurants will be independently audited for the next three years, with new workplace relations training will be provided to all staff.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently confirmed it is investigating claims of underpayment at restaurants owned by prominent chefs including Neil Perry and Heston Blumenthal. After the significant fine and strict conditions handed to Calombaris, you’d have to imagine they are sweating.
I’m just going to leave this 2012 article from The Age where George says how cruel Fair Work’s pay rates are. Guess he wasn’t paying them anyway!