Workers were allegedly being underpaid hourly wages, denied workplace entitlements such as overtime and penalty rates and being paid cash-in-hand off the books.

La La Bar Group runs popular bars on the inner south-east Melbourne strip including Wonderland, Electric Ladyland, Lucky Liquor, Blue Bar and Holy Grail.

The surprise audit followed a Fair Work investigation involving interviews with staff and management at the bars, and a review of internal documents including staff pay slips, rosters and employment records.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the audits would help determine if there are workplace issues within the La La Bar Group that need addressing.

“The intelligence we have received about potentially unlawful treatment of staff at the La La Bar Group is concerning, which is why we have taken this action,” Ms Parker said.