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last updated 02/11/2021

Franchisors comment on mandatory vaccination

last updated 02/11/2021

29 October 2021 – The recent announcement of mandatory vaccination requirements for certain sectors, including hospitality, hairdressers and gyms, presents new challenges for franchisors and franchisees. How will they cope?

Hospitality workers may face challenges enforcing mandatory vaccination certificates under the traffic light system

Requiring staff in close contact industries to be fully vaccinated, and requiring customers to show a valid vaccination certificate upon entry to the premises, could present considerable challenges to business owners in the affected sectors. We asked some leading franchisors how they are preparing their franchisees for the new regime, which will come into force when the country moves to the Covid-19 Protection Framework or ‘traffic light’ system. 

Do you support the mandatory vaccination requirement for your sector?

Jon Hassall, general manager of Columbus Coffee is very clear: ‘YES, without a doubt,’ he told us.

Brad Jacobs, director of The Coffee Club in New Zealand is equally positive. ‘Yes, I am completely comfortable with compulsory vaccination in the Food & Beverage industry. From a survey we did before the recent announcement, we already have a 100 percent fully- or part-completed vaccination rate among our franchisees, thankfully.

Julie Evans, CEO of Rodney Wayne, comments, ‘Based on the facts presented and the decision made to mandate our industry, we have no option other than to support the decision and our best approach is to accept and move forward with what is required.

And Amber Manning, CEO, Just Cuts, says, ‘This clarity around the legal framework for mandatory vaccination from the New Zealand government is welcome. We have always supported the measures that are grounded in keeping our clients safe, and Just Cuts salons open.’

How do your franchisees feel about it? Are there any areas in which you or they foresee specific problems?

Julie Evans: ‘There are concerns about not being able to retain team members who do not get vaccinated – there is already a global shortage of hairstylists. There is the challenge of all the work to prepare for the mandate: HR, IEA, process and policy changes and updates, and navigating the questions facing salon and retail guests and the recording of their vaccine status.’

Amber Manning: ‘As a close contact personal service we’ve always understood and appreciated the severity of this pandemic, which is why we’ve seen high vaccination rates within our network. Just Cuts encourages our teams all over the world to get vaccinated, but we also recognise there are some who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

‘Our New Zealand salon owners currently in lockdown have been working hard to keep their teams engaged, but there are concerns that this mandate may result in some resignations.’

Brad Jacobs, The Coffee Club: ‘We believe all franchisees are generally in support of the vaccination mandate for team and customers, but there are concerns about how it will be managed/enforced and where the responsibility will fall: are we going to be expected to act as ‘police’, will there be monetary fines for businesses who don’t comply for whatever reason, etc?

‘In our survey, 10 franchisees responded that they are aware of at least 1 team member that is not intending to be vaccinated, and 2 responded that they believe they have 3 or more.  One of those is in an area where many of the team members attend the same church, and there’s pressure/influence from the church not to be vaccinated.’

Will you be rolling out common systems for managing this requirement throughout your franchise?

Jon Hassall points out that it’s not yet completely clear what the requirements will be, and what powers will be provided to operators. ‘Everything could be out of date by the next press conference! We will use the systems provided by the Government to manage staff and customers.’

Brad Jacobs says The Coffee Club intends to make it a mandatory requirement across the group that all cafés/franchisees will subscribe to the vaccination certificate programme. ‘Our Operations Team is already working on this in conjunction with information received from our franchisor in Australia, where some states have similar requirements, and procedures have already been developed.’

Amber Manning says that, as Just Cuts is a no-appointments, just walk in business, ‘Checking clients are double-vaccinated adds another job for our stylists, who we know from previous reopenings will be incredibly busy for weeks after reopening in salons.

‘To streamline client check-in, we’re promoting the Just Cuts app, which enables contactless check-in and allows clients to reserve their place in the digital queue. This also reduces the pressure on our stylists in salon, so they can simply check the vaccination status of clients and maximise the time they can spend on cutting. We made a significant investment in this before Covid, and it’s been a huge help for our franchisees during reopening surges in client numbers.’

Julie Evans adds that Rodney Wayne has already engaged with the Employers & Manufacturers Association and will be working with them on changes required.

What challenges do you expect the requirement to present to your franchisees and their staff?

Jon Hassall says consistency will be a challenge. ‘As any multi-unit operator knows, you can’t always get busy teams even to wear their name badges or read promotional bulletins ... Multiply that by 100 retail units and 15 staff minimum per site, and you can see the scale of the challenge in applying policies across all outlets and shifts! In all seriousness, it’s a bit early to comment until we see the risk assessment and passport app.’

Amber Manning talks about managing the message. ‘We know from all the conversations our stylists have with their clients that there is still some vaccine hesitancy in the community, That’s why we created a comprehensive vaccination conversation document and held online tutorials covering common vaccination Q&A’s to ensure our stylists feel safe and supported.’

Brad Jacobs is worried about staffing. ‘Recruiting to replace non-vaccinated staff that can no longer stay with us is already very difficult in F&B and this will only make the pool of potential staff even smaller.

'My single biggest concern from the announcement is the 4-week notice period.  If I understand it correctly, essentially the employee can give in and get vaccinated at the last minute and then you are required to let them keep their position – even though you would have already had to recruit their replacement by then.’

There's also the issue that someone getting their first jab on the last day won't be fully vaccinated until after their second jab 3 or even 6 weeks later, so cannot work during that time - but should they still be paid? One HR expert has suggested that such an employee is not entitled to be paid for the stand-down period because not getting vaccinated earlier was their choice, but accepts that this might be challenged. His advice is to let them know right at the start of the 4-week period that this will be the situation.

Any other comments? 

Amber leads off by saying, ‘Just Cuts actively encourage every New Zealander that is eligible to get vaccinated so we can put an end to at-home haircuts.

‘While these new measures represent a welcome step towards living with Covid and reopening our salons, franchisees have dealt with incredibly difficult circumstances as a result of lockdown restrictions due to the reality of operating a close contact personal care business. They cannot work from home and you can’t get your haircut online.’

‘If we take a wider view of Government responses to safely reopening within the Asia Pacific Region, we appreciate the clarity around vaccination from the New Zealand Government, and yesterday’s announcement around improving rent relief measures is welcome news for our 12 salons currently under Alert Level 3 restrictions.

‘But there is still much more to do, particularly around stylist recruitment. Due to sustained growth in demand for hairdressing and barber services, there’s a hairdresser shortage in New Zealand, so we are calling on the Government to reopen the borders to allow hairdressers to enter New Zealand from overseas and streamline the sponsorship process.’

The Coffee Club’s survey of franchisees offered franchisees the opportunity to add their own comments, Brad says. A few of the main ones which came up were:

  • Asking minimum wage workers to act as bouncers checking ID sounds like a recipe for disaster. It is not in any of our employees’ job descriptions and nor should it be.
  • Staff member cannot get vaccinations due to medical reasons as recommended by her doctor. Where does that leave her?
  • We won't have enough staff to operate the business!
  • How to track vaccinated customers?
  • We need to have/implement the certificate as a brand across all stores.

And Julie Evans is also concerned about the future complexities that may be presented by a multi-tiered traffic light system.

But Jon Hassall believes that the technical problems will ultimately be resolved. ‘Last year we all moaned about QR scanning and how impossible it would be, and now look at us all, day in, day out. We will work it out!’

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