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Celebrity Chef underpays staff by $2.6 million

Celebrity Chef underpays staff by $2.6 million

Nearly 200 staff at George Calombaris' restaurants have been underpaid $2.6 million, with the celebrity chef blaming "historically poor processes" for the bungle.

Calombaris underpaid 162 of the 430 current staff at restaurants including The Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic, which form part of the chef's Made Establishment Group, over the past six years.

Staff were not paid the correct salaries or overtime due to the "poor processes in classifying employees", Calombaris said.

Employees at his Greek street food restaurant chain Jimmy Grants were not affected, he said.

The MasterChef judge said he was "devastated" by the blunder, which will see affected employees back-paid an average of just over $16,000 each.

"You, our amazing team, are the key to our success. I am so sorry we have messed up and let you down on a fundamental issue," Calombaris said in an email to staff on Monday.

Inside Calombaris' restaurant Hellenic Republic in Brunswick.

Inside Calombaris' restaurant Hellenic Republic in Brunswick. 

"I am devastated by what has happened and we have been working extremely hard to fix this. I want to be clear that getting it right means ensuring that every single one of our team members is paid what they are entitled to under the industry award, and that any outstanding money owed to staff is rectified."

"Regrettably, our attention to detail at that time wasn't at a level it should have been, but we now have a CEO and human resources manager in place," Calombaris said.

"Any team members overpaid will not be asked to pay back any money," the email to staff said. "Those people will retain the same payments they are now on."

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