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Multi-millionaire Justin Hemmes Angry At Having To Pay Proper Wages

Multi-millionaire Justin Hemmes angry at having to pay proper wages

Multi-millionaire Justin Hemmes is angry at having to pay his workers proper wages and entitlements.

The company behind his billion dollar pub empire has complained about having to pay award wages and entitlements to their staff.

Multi-millionaire Justin Hemmes is angry at having to pay proper wages

Yesterday, the Fair Work Commission finally ended the Merivale Group’s Work Choices-era employment agreement.

The agreement allowed the company to pay thousands of young workers well below current hospitality award rates.

From March, Merivale will be forced to pay proper award rates of pay.

Paying proper wages risks profits

In a bizarre whinge to the Commission, Merivale’s human resources manager Kate Tones suggested that paying workers proper wages and overtime or penalty rates would place the profitability of the business at risk.

“Merivale will need to consider the viability of business practices which while viable under the EBA, may not be viable under the modern award.”

Furthermore, she also lamented a requirement to give staff mandatory breaks, given none are currently offered.

‘Cry me a river!’

Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Fair Work Claims, scoffed at the suggestion.

“Cry me a river!” he said. 

“We are talking about a business that has spent years making huge profits by paying their workers below award wages.

“If ripping off workers and not giving them breaks is the only way your business is viable, then you shouldn’t be in business.”

A billion dollar business

The Hemmes family empire includes 70 hotels, pubs and restaurants throughout Sydney.

For example, The Ivy, The Beresford and The Establishment, in addition to the Newport Hotel on the northern beaches.

The Merivale Group is worth an estimated $1 billion, while Justin has a personal fortune of $300 million.

How the rip off worked

The old agreement worked like this:

A worker is paid $24.20 an hour for casual work on any day and at any time.

On public holidays, the amount increased to $25.50 an hour.

Under the current award:

A casual worker is entitled to:

  • an hourly rate of $27.48 Monday to Friday evenings,
  • $30.33 on Saturdays,
  • $35.39 on Sundays and
  • $50.55 on public holidays.

As a result of the old agreement, some workers were out of pocket $3,000 a year.

“How on earth Merivale has been allowed to get away with this for so long is astounding,” Mr Heffernan said.

“Paying half the award rate not only rips off workers, it also gives Merivale venues a huge unfair advantage over their competitors.”


Please call Fair Work Claims today on 

1300 324 748

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