A number of bars along Melbourne’s popular Chapel Street were raided by Fair Work inspectors on Wednesday night after a number of workers made complaints about underpayments.
The bars targeted by the workplace watchdog are all owned by the La La Bar Group, and included Holy Grail, Electric, Wonderland, Jane Do Bar, Lucky Liquor and La La Land.
Audits the result of complaints
According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, it received almost 20 complaints and six anonymous reports from workers who claimed they were being underpaid their hourly wages, and were not receiving entitlements such as overtime and penalty rates.
Some workers alleged they were being paid in cash “off the books”.
Fair Work Inspectors interviewed staff and management at the bars, and reviewed documents including staff pay slips, rosters and employment records.
Fair Work Ombudsman vows to recover stolen wages for workers
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the audits would uncover any breaches of workplace laws by the La La Bar Group.
“The intelligence we have received about potentially unlawful treatment of staff at the La La Bar Group is concerning which is why we have taken this action,” she said.
“If we do uncover breaches, we will work to recover any entitlements owed to staff and also consider what enforcement action is necessary.”
More audits needed
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, welcomed the surprise audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“We have been greatly encouraged by the increase in proactive activity and enforcement action by the regulator since Ms Parker has taken over as the Fair Work Ombudsman,” he said.
“We need more of these surprise audits when workers make complaints about wage theft, so greedy bosses get the message that if you’re going to rip off your workers, you are going to get caught.”
A report on the audit’s findings will be published once the investigations are completed.