Recent cases of restaurant underpayments have drawn significant media attention. One such case is the alleged denial of employee wages by high-end restaurant chain Rockpool.

The restaurant has been accused of tampering with pay and time-sheet software to make employees, some of whom worked up to 100 hours a week, appear to have only worked no more than 38 hours a week.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodged a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman, requesting significant financial compensation against Rockpool for “one of the most egregious cases of wage theft” in Australia. Another allegation made to the Ombudsman was that staff had been directed to doctor the hours worked on the time-sheet recording system in order to comply with workplace laws.

Maurice Blackburn states that workers are owed at least $10 million, each individual breach penalty potentially reaching up to $126,000. The chain has an annual turnover of over $400 million.

Maurice Blackburn is currently running legal proceedings on behalf of former employee, Rohit Karki, who alleges he worked two 20-hour shifts back-to-back. With no time to return home between shifts, he claims to have slept on a pastry bench in the kitchen until his next shift.

Rockpool Dining Group is not the only restaurant to have recently faced allegations of workplace underpayments. Celebrity chef George Calombaris’s MAdE Establishment admitted to the underpayment of more than 500 current and former employees, back paying $7.8 million in wages. The Fair Work Ombudsman has also recovered $81,638.82 in unpaid wages of Subway’s current and previous employees. In another scandal, a leaked audit shows the high-end restaurant business running the Chin Chin chain in Melbourne and Sydney underpaid one-fifth of the company’s employees by $340,000 in one year.

It is important to ensure employees have been paid at least their minimum pay rates and entitlements. The Fair Work Ombudsman details 6 steps to fixing underpayments. They are:

Step 1: Work out how long the employee has been underpaid,

Step 2: Work out how much the employee was actually paid,

Step 3: Work out how much the employee should have been paid,

Step 4: Calculate how much the employee has been underpaid,

Step 5: Back pay the employee,

Step 6: Keep up-to-date with future wage increases.

If you require assistance with underpayments or have any questions regarding your business’s policies and procedures, please contact JFMLAW on (02) 9199 8597.