Franchise pay dispute underlines the need for sound HR and IR advice

With the increased onset of national and globalised businesses in Australia, smaller organisations are beginning to spread their operations across multiple locations. Human resources managers cannot be remiss in ensuring that all parts of their organisation adhere to state and territory legislation, as a misunderstanding of relevant legislation can land an employer in hot water in regards to an unfair dismissal claim or grievance.

Costly disputes can be avoided by ensuring that all sites and franchisees have access to expert HR advice. Seeking advice early can prevent a costly and time consuming visit to a dispute resolution tribunal, Fair Work Commission or court.

A recent dispute involving a family-owned, franchised food business in Melbourne highlights the importance of business owners having speedy access to sound HR advice. An employee, who was sacked after she circulated a petition asking for award entitlements for herself and her co-workers, has taken her former employer to Federal Court. Claiming that she was paid below-award wages, even after progressing from her trainee wage upon turning 20, the employee is requesting to be re-employed in her former position with the support of a relevant union.

The franchise partner disputed the claims, advised that the employee was fired for allegedly bullying two of her managers. The franchisor has indicated that the store in question is a small, family owned-franchise and intends to defend itself against the former employee’s claims.

The Federal Court has since ordered that the employee be reinstated on leave without pay until her adverse action hearing this month. The franchisor has also agreed to bargain with the relevant union on a new enterprise agreement to replace its current Workchoices-era greenfields agreement.

iHR Australia believes that to prevent time-consuming and costly disputes, it is crucial that managers and franchisees have access to expert advice on high-risk HR issues, including unfair dismissal, termination, discrimination, and harassment claims. With our Employer Advisory Services, iHR can ensure your business has access to highly experienced HR advisers who can tailor advice to the needs of your business.