The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a franchise program in a bid to strengthen the sector, teaching franchisors how to best promote compliance with workplace laws.
The National Franchise Program is an initiative of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s National Employer Branch, which has been liaising with the Franchise Council of Australia.
The National Employer Branch assists large national employers to ensure they meet their obligations under the Fair Work Act, National Employment Standards, etc.
In establishing the branch, the Fair Work Ombudsman consulted with external stakeholders to identify issues that large employers experience in achieving compliance with workplace laws.
In 2010-11, the branch supported more than 30 national enterprises that together employ more than 209,000 people across a range of industries.
The newly launched National Franchise Program will provide free advice to franchisors on how to best promote compliance with workplace laws across their network.
According to Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson, the program is a worthwhile opportunity for franchisors to enhance their brand by publicly supporting fair workplaces.
“Franchisors can demonstrate a commitment to corporate responsibility, and position their franchise outlets as employers of choice,” Wilson said in a statement.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has also launched a new website, with information and resources specifically tailored for the franchising sector.
Franchisors participating in the NFP will work with the Fair Work Ombudsman to discuss their franchise structure and needs, and strengthen their existing policies and practices.
Advisors will help franchisors develop and implement programs to increase their franchisees’ understanding of, and compliance with, workplace laws.
A spokesperson for the Fair Work Ombudsman says compliance concerns were not a primary motivating factor behind the establishment of the NFP.
“Franchises… have existing business structures that can be utilised to deliver education and assistance to the entire franchise network,” the spokesperson says.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman recognises that working with franchisors to promote compliance presents an opportunity to reach and support these employers and their employees in a resource-efficient way.”
“The only criteria for inclusion in the program is that the participant be a franchisor. We are looking to work with franchises of differing sizes and structures.”
“The success of the program will ultimately be determined by factors such as the level of interest and engagement from franchisors, and feedback from franchisors as to how the program benefited their business.”
Rod Young, managing director of DC Strategy, says while franchisors must ensure they fulfill their workplace responsibilities, franchisees also have a part to play.
“Generally, a franchisee has a contractual responsibility to faithfully apply the system in a territory and/or location while the franchisor must provide the knowhow and systems to do so,” he says.
“However, each franchise agreement is different, and the rights and obligations of both parties need to be understood.”