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Masterchef Australia judge underpaid 515 employees by over S$7m

Masterchef Australia judge underpaid 515 employees by over S$7m

Masterchef Australia judge and celebrity chef George Calombaris. (Photo: Instagram/gcalombaris)

An Australian celebrity chef said on Thursday (Jul 18) he had underpaid hundreds of his restaurant employees by nearly A$8 million (S$7.67 million) over six years.

George Calombaris – who shot to worldwide fame through his role on the television show Masterchef – said he would repay 515 current and former employees who were underpaid between 2011 and 2017.

"We apologise to all our affected team members, past and present," Calombaris said in a statement.

"It is our priority to ensure all of our employees feel respected, rewarded and supported in their roles."

The underpayments came to light after a four-year investigation by Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman, which looks into workplace complaints

Calombaris was also fined A$200,000 (S$192,000) as part of a "contrition payment".

Australia's hospitality union, United Voice, criticised the fine as too small.

"If someone deliberately took A$1,000 out of someone else’s bank account, there would be a high likelihood of a criminal conviction for theft," the union's national secretary, Jo-anne Schofield, said in a statement.

"But when you're a multimillionaire restaurateur, celebrity chef, you can take A$7.83 million in wages from your workers and get away with a contrition payment."

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters/sr

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