Chef Guillaume Brahimi's restaurant chain in staff underpayment hot water

Guillaume Brahimi outside Bistro Guillaume, Sydney. Photography: Nikki To

Guillaume Brahimi's restaurant chain, Bistro Guillaume, is the latest, high-profile, hospitality operation to face allegations of severe staff underpayment.

In an investigation conducted by Fairfax Media, it is claimed that chefs at the Melbourne arm of Bistro Guillaume were required to work up to 60 hours a week.

The probe purportedly uncovered rosters and pay-slips from Bistro Guillaume at Crown in Melbourne that revealed employees had been paid overall an hourly rate of $17.50, which falls below the minimum award under Australian workplace laws. 

These revelations come only months after another investigation revealed that Rockpool Dining Group, fronted by Neil Perry, had engaged in similar practices.

Rockpool Dining Group eventually agreed to back pay its staff $1.6 million who regularly had worked 38 hours (paid) plus 20 to 30 hours a week in unpaid overtime over the last financial year.

In almost identical circumstances at Bistro Guillaume, it is alleged that chefs were paid for a 38-hour week, but received no recompense for the additional 20 to 30 hours a week they worked. 

One chef even claimed to work up to 70 hours a week and, speaking to Fairfax Media, described the circumstances as "like hell".

The chefs impacted were largely in Australia on temporary visas from France, the UK and South America.

In response to the Fairfax investigation, Bistro Guillaume stated, "This matter comes as a surprise to us and we have not received any complaints from our team.

"As a business, we care for and respect all our employees.

"It has never been our intention at Bistro Guillaume to not remunerate our team appropriately."

Bistro Guillaume went on to assert that if the staff underpayment has been raised with management then "it would certainly have been given the highest priority and rectified".

More to come.