In a brilliant piece of spin worthy of an election campaign, George Calombaris openly admitted to underpaying past and present employees over $2.9 million – and has maintained his positive public image.

From the papers to The Project, the popular Masterchef appeared everywhere, apologised for profiting from his workers and continued to accept bookings at his numerous Greek restaurants across Melbourne.

You would be forgiven for thinking that it’s all that easy – underpay, apologise, back to business as usual – but be warned, this is the exception, not the rule. 

Businesses that are found to breach the Fair Work Act 2009 are liable to penalties of up to $54,000 for corporations, per breach. This means that if you underpay 100 employees, you are liable to 100 lots of penalties. Directors also face penalties of upon $10,800 per breach.  

Last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered more than $2.2 million dollars in penalties alone for underpaid employees.

For George Calombaris’ Made Establishment empire, the repayments will be made quickly and easily, as the investors in the business have continued to pledge their financial support for the company.

Other businesses are not so lucky and have had to enter into voluntary administration after being ordered to back-pay their workers.

If you are unsure of how much to pay your employees in order to fulfil your obligations under the relevant employment contract, modern award or enterprise bargaining agreement, talk to someone who knows the answer! Contact the workplace relations team at Nevett Ford for all your employment law questions on (03) 9614 7111.