Recent media attention around the employment practices of franchisees should serve as a reminder all franchise systems that the conduct of a minority of, or in recent cases many, franchisees can reflect very poorly on the system as a whole.
With the franchising industry directly employing more than 460,0001 people in Australia, what can your support office team do to support franchisees in remaining compliant in their employment practices and therefore be seen as an employer of choice.
Often franchisees entering your system will not have been business owners before, and therefore may not be skilled and knowledgeable in the employee
and industrial relations. Being aware of and understanding their obligations under the variouslegislative tools and frameworks that shape employment law in Australia can be confusing even for those of us educated in these fields.
Modern Awards, Collective Agreements, wage rates, leave entitlements, unfair dismissal, among other things, can all be a minefield to navigate and ensure that all obligations are met.
There has often been a grey area as to where the buck stops in terms of liability in areas of OHS, IR and employee relations. If the franchisor knows it is happening and turns a blind eye is there liability? If the franchisee takes every effort to hide their illegal activity is there the same level of liability on the franchisor?
How many of your franchisees do, or would even consider, engaging an employer association, such as Vecci, Ai Group, AFEI, to advise and assist them in their employment practices? Or are you as a franchisor providing that support via your field operations team or HR Department?
We see that franchise systems either offer full support to their franchisees by way of wage rate updates, recruitment processes, documents templates, etc., or no support at all. Most franchise systems are such that a franchisee will have no option but to employ staff.
Does the Franchise Induction Program and Operational Manuals provide franchisees with current and relevant support tools and advise them of their obligations? Are you training and supporting your franchisees in doing things the right way or does your system facilitate poor employment practices by not educating franchisees and then auditing and monitoring their activity.
The Barry Plant Group support best practice employee relations in their franchise network by providing franchisee principals and their key staff with access to a specialist at head office that can advise and provide support in matters relating to the employment of their staff. The Barry Plant Group have also put in place enterprise agreements and offices are issued with updated rates of pay every year. When a tricky or potentially litigious query or management issue arises FC Business Solutions offers support by way of a HR Helpdesk service to provide expert and specific responses and advice on best practice strategies, including:
- Terms, conditions and entitlement of employment.
- Inducting new employees, training and coaching strategies.
- Conducting performance appraisals.
- Recommendations on handling employee performance and behaviour.
- Feedback on issuing verbal and written warnings.
- Assistance with terminating and resigning employees. Review of all documentation, such as warnings, meeting notes and agendas.