George Calombaris-owned restaurants The Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic underpaid staff to the tune of $2.6m in salary errors dating back to 2011.
The bungle by the MAdE Group, of which the MasterChef judge is founder and director, was only recently uncovered by independent analysis commissioned by the company, despite being first notified in 2015 by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The discrepancies left some employees underpaid and others overpaid with an “average back payment to employees just over $16,000.”
The MasterChef judge has apologised to 162 members of his 430-strong team .
“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,” he wrote to staff.
“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 as our highest priority.
“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.”
Employees at his Greek street food restaurant chain Jimmy Grants were not affected.