Watchdog inquires into prominent chef Guillaume Brahimi over underpayment allegations

Guillaume Brahimi

French President Emmanuel Macron and chef Guillaume Brahimi Source: AAP/Ludovic Marin.

The Fair Work Ombudsman says its “making enquiries” regarding one of prominent French chef Guillaume Brahimi’s restaurants, amid allegations it is underpaying staff.

Citing leaked rosters and payslips, Fairfax alleged in an investigation published on Sunday Brahimi is underpaying permanent workers at his Melbourne restaurant through unpaid overtime.

The prominent chef, who hosted French president Emmanuel Macron at his Sydney Bistro in May, ran the three-hatted Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant at the Opera House for over a decade.

Fairfax reports that some chefs at Brahimi’s Melbourne-based restaurant are working up to 60 hours a week, which it said pushes hourly rates below the award to as little as $17.50 an hour.

It is alleged some chefs have been underpaid several hundred dollars per each week.

The Fair Work Ombudsman, which is cracking down on underpayment in the hospitality industry, confirmed to SmartCompany it was conducting inquiries in the wake of the reports via email on Monday.

The reports come less than two weeks after Neil Perry’s Rockpool Dining Group announced it would backpay staff $1.6 million after Fairfax published allegations of underpayment within its restaurants.

The Rockpool case was similar to Brahimi’s whereby it is alleged excessive overtime was worked, driving hourly wages below the award.

Perry has previously said he doesn’t believe many players in the restaurant business in Australia are complying with the industry award.

SmartCompany contacted Brahimi for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

In a statement provided for Fairfax’s original report, Brahimi’s business said it never intentionally underpaid staff.

This matter comes as a surprise to us and we have not received any complaints from our team,” the statement said.

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