La La Group, a hospitality company behind seven venues along Chapel Street, has been accused of underpaying three former workers, represented by the Hospo Voice union, around $50,000.

Bars run by the La La Group include Electric Ladyland, Blue Bar, Lucky Liquor, Wonderland Bar, Holy Grail, Mothers Milk, La La Land and La La Land CBD.

The Age says it has obtained interviews with workers, documents and payslips that show employees – managers and general staff – have allegedly been paid below the minimum entitlements laid out in the Hospitality Industry Award 2010.

It’s alleged the underpayments date back to at least 2010 and during that time staff were paid with cash and regularly not paid superannuation or according to penalty rates.

Company emails seen by the Age dating back to 2012 allegedly show a system of “on the books” and “off the books” payments used in the group’s payroll.

One anonymous worker represented by Hospo Voice claims personal underpayments of $16,000 (plus super payments). Despite working weekends and late into the night, the employee alleges they never received penalty rates. Payment was allegedly made with an envelope of cash.

The Hospo Voice union has lodged a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Age also reports La La Group’s website was taken offline on Saturday. Broadsheet was unable to contact La La Group by phone or email at its venues at the time of publication.

Several major players in the hospitality industry have been accused or found guilty of underpaying staff over the past two years. In April 2017 George Calmobaris’s Made Establishment back-paid staff $2.6 million following what the group described as an “administrative error”. In October 2018 the Rockpool Dining Group, fronted by chef Neil Perry, back-paid staff $1.6 million following a payroll review of the 2017–2018 financial year.

Allegations of underpayment were made against Dainty Sichuan group in July 2017, against Dinner by Heston in December 2018, and against Ezard in February this year.

In September 2018 the Meatball and Wine Bar was fined $31,320 for underpayments a judge accepted were not deliberate.