Joint liability starts this Friday – here are some actions you can take
By Kerry Miles
Australia’s franchise sector will operate under a new regulatory regime from this Friday 27 October, with the onus on franchisors to show they have taken reasonable steps to prevent breaches of workplace laws by their franchisees.
Are you ready for the new joint liability requirements and the reasonable steps to show you are complying and assisting your franchisees to do the right thing?
With the long-debated Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 finally set to come into effect, it was no surprise that joint liability was a hot topic at this month’s Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) national conference on the Gold Coast.
Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) Natalie James was in attendance and presented to the FCA conference on the joint liability changes, which were also the focus of roundtable discussions.
Here are some of the key reasonable steps recommendations and ideas that I took away from the FCA conference:
- Encourage workers to diarise their working hours. There is a ‘record my hours’ app produced by the FWO and available on the App store for free.
- Have a direct hotline for employees of franchisees. They can then talk directly to the franchisor if they feel they are not being paid correctly.
- Have a specific email address for employees of franchisees. This is an alternative to a hotline that allows franchisee staff to report any pay issues anonymously to the franchisor.
- Communicate to franchisees. This is the absolute minimum to highlight to franchisees how important it is to pay correctly and send a link to the FWO website.
- Join an industry association. FWO has found compliance is greater when businesses are members of industry associations.
- The FCA has a free HR Hotline for its members.
- Consider have a “compliance partnership” with FWO by entering into a proactive compliance deed
- Provide best practice capabilities. Have franchisees use accounting software and benchmarking that puts the spotlight on errors. Make these a standard offering as part of the franchise agreement.
- If you find a problem, endeavour to correct it quickly. If you can fix it quickly, you do not have to alert FWO. But if you find system wide non-compliance, it is better to tell FWO rather than stick your head in the sand. This is an important point as FWO has stressed it wants to work collaboratively with the franchise sector (not with a big stick) to achieve better workplace outcomes.
Kerry Miles is the General and Business Manager for the Franchise Centre at Griffith University and has over 15 years of experience in the franchise sector. She is responsible for developing franchise educational products and events and is the editor of the Centre's enewsletter.