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WAGES OF SIN
In2HR helps keep franchises safe from brand-damaging disasters
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Thai-Anh Cooper of In2HR 'We provide expert advice at an affordable cost and, best of all, we understand franchising'
Two recent investigations by the Labour Inspectorate have seen New Zealand franchises pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages arrears. In addition, companies linked to one franchisor were fined a massive $99,000 in penalties for failing to provide minimum wage and correct holiday pay (see page 68).
‘The Labour Inspectorate has warned that it is increasingly going to be looking at franchised businesses so it’s up to franchisors to ensure that their franchisees understand their obligations as employers and have the right processes in place,’ says Thai-Anh Cooper. ‘Hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons can do massive damage to your brand’s reputation and value.’
Thai-Anh runs In2HR, a company that specialises in keeping franchises out of trouble. Having worked as an HR Consultant and People Audit Manager for one of the world’s best-known franchises, as well as running her own food businesses, she understands exactly how difficult and time-consuming employment issues can be.
‘Fortunately, franchisors are much more aware of the risks than they were a year ago. I’m currently working with someone who is bringing a great franchise over from Australia who is putting a proper HR framework in for franchisees right from the start. They’ve seen what has happened to some franchises and are determined not to fall into the same trap.’
In2HR provides education, templates and guides for franchises of all sizes. ‘It’s one thing to have an acceptable agreement, but if in-store practice differs from what’s in the contract, you have a problem waiting to erupt,’ says Thai-Anh. ‘I’ve seen that happen and when a small business finds itself having to come up with three years’ back pay it hurts, believe me!’
Thai-Anh suggests three key areas that franchises need to address:
Train Franchisees need to understand their obligations as employers. ‘If they have never had staff before, or are unfamiliar with New Zealand labour laws, they need to get up to speed fast,’ says Thai-Anh. ‘That’s why we offer e-courses that can be built-in to any franchisor’s training programme that tell you what you can and can’t say and do, explain record keeping and cover contractual obligations including all the common employment clauses and how to apply them. These courses include quizzes to ensure understanding and provide a record of compliance for the franchisor in the event of any future issues.
Review ‘Because it’s a specialist area, regular franchise audits don’t pick up discrepancies in employment agreements, pay slips or holiday records. Our review process is similar to what a Labour Inspector would do and gives peace of mind: for franchisees, it prepares them if the inspectors ever come knocking on their door; for franchisors, it provides visibility into where your franchisees may need support from a compliance perspective. The law is very complicated, especially where there are flexible staff with irregular working patterns. We can also train field managers in what to ask and what to look for between HR reviews.’
Support Franchisees need support mechanisms in place so that when something goes wrong they can get immediate and accurate advice. ‘Most franchisors don’t have the expertise in-house, which is why we offer our clients an Advice Line,’ says Thai-Anh. ‘This also has the advantage that it distances the franchisor from giving employment advice, which could otherwise see them drawn into issues which are not of their making.’
In addition to helping avoid personnel issues, In2HR also works pro-actively to help franchises attract and retain good staff. ‘It’s been proven time and time again that companies with strong employee engagement not only retain talent and attract the right people, but also enjoy customer loyalty and growth as the team are advocates for the organisation,’ says Thai-Anh.
In2HR is already working with some of New Zealand’s best-known brands at both franchisor and franchisee level, and Thai-Anh is keen to meet with others looking to embrace best practice solutions and avoid brand-damaging disasters.
‘We provide expert advice at an affordable cost and, best of all, we understand franchising. Call me and see how we can help.’
See this advertorial on page 59 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 26 Issue 4
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