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Rockpool accused of ‘audacious’ wage theft

High-end restaurant group Rockpool is accused of tampering with time-sheet records so it looked like staff who worked up to 100 hours a week only worked the regular 38.

The “audacious” scheme was allegedly designed to cheat them of overtime pay.

The Hospo Voice Union has hired Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to lodge a complaint against Rockpool with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), with the matter to go to mediation on Friday.

But Rockpool Dining Group said the allegations had been made without evidence.

The group is accused of tampering with time-sheet software to limit employees to 38 hours pay a week, despite the use of fingerprint scanners for staff clocking on and off showing some work up to 100 hours a week.

Maurice Blackburn estimates the stolen wages total at least $10 million in what the law firm calls “one of the most egregious cases of wage theft Australia has seen”.

The estimated scale of theft is even bigger than the $7.8 million George Calombaris MAdE Establishment group repaid to its workers.

“Following the Calombaris debacle, the ombudsman must now prosecute Rockpool and go for the maximum fines available to salvage its reputation as a regulator,” Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Josh Bornstein said on Thursday.

Former Rockpool chef Rohit Karki said he was “treated like an animal” as he did back-to-back 20-hour shifts on $12 per hour.

“They tampered with our timesheets, so staff had no record of all the hours we worked,” he said.

But Rockpool Dining Group said it has not been given any details in the Maurice Blackburn claim.

“RDG has no evidence to substantiate claims of group-wide manipulation or destruction of data in order to intentionally underpay employees,” the company said in a statement.

“RDG continues to assess historical wage practices and remains committed to addressing legacy practices.

“At all times the company remains engaged with FWO and RDG team members, past and present.

“We take these allegations very seriously. We encourage team members, past and present, to continue to make use of our HR hotline … to report their concerns.”

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