On Wednesday, the Fair Work Ombudsman conducted surprise audits on a number of La La Bar Group bars in Melbourne’s popular Chapel Street district to check if the businesses were complying with Australia’s workplace laws.
The bars of the La La Bar Group that were audited include Electric, Holy Grail, Wonderland, Lucky Liquor, La La Land (Windsor) and Jane Do Bar.
The surprise audits came as a result of allegations that came from nearly 20 enquiries, six anonymous reports and other complaints that workers at the venues are being underpaid hourly wages, denied workplace entitlements such as overtime and penalty rates, and being paid cash in hand off the books.
As part of the audits, Fair Work Inspectors interviewed staff and management of the bars, and reviewed documents including staff payslips, rosters and employment records.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the audits would help determine if there are workplace issues within the La La Bar Group that need addressing.
“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,” Ms Parker said.
“Targeting underpayments in the hospitality sector is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman. We regularly conduct surprise audits as part of our investigations to help us get to the bottom of serious allegations.
“We will carefully review the evidence we have gathered, including during last night’s audits, to determine if there are any breaches of Australia’s workplace laws.
“If we do uncover breaches, we will work to recover any entitlements owed to staff and also consider what enforcement action is necessary.”
According to the FWO, more than $4 million was recovered by the regulator for workers from fast food, restaurant and café businesses in the last financial year.
The broader hospitality industry — including restaurants, fast food outlets and cafés — continue to be over-represented in contacts to the FWO, with 18 per cent of workplace disputes recorded, a third of court actions and almost 40 per cent of all anonymous reports, despite representing just 7 per cent of the workforce.