Workers at celebrity chef George Calombaris’ restaurant empire should be given the chance to keep their jobs if the business goes bust, Victoria’s jobs minister says.

Calombaris’ Made Establishment group, which employs about 500 staff at its 18 restaurants, is expected to make a decision on whether or not it will go into voluntary administration after a meeting on Monday afternoon, according to various media outlets.

The development comes after it emerged last year staff were backpaid $7.8 million in wages and superannuation in 2017.

It is expected that all staff and creditors will be paid, but some poorly performing restaurants could be sold.

Victorian Jobs Minister Martin Pakula says if voluntary administration is required, people’s jobs should be the priority.

“My thoughts and concerns would be for all of the employees of his company,” he told reporters on Monday.

“In that regard, I would hope that any conversations that are had with bankers and administrators are such that those people are able to keep their jobs.”

Melbourne-based Made Establishment was fined $200,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman in July after current or former employees of the Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic were back paid for work between 2011 and 2017.

Unions were outraged with the size of the fine, saying it should have been bigger.