As the wage underpayments saga continues with non-franchise retailer Super Retail Group racking up about $7m in miscalculated salaries, it’s important to look at ways to maintain consistency across outlets and to avoid payment mistakes.
A consistent approach to employment is crucial for any franchisor, particularly a business of size and national spread.
“The biggest issue is paying correctly,” says Lisa Fisher, national HR manager at Retail Zoo. “One of the things we are finding is just understanding awards, they are still quite difficult to read. Managers can inadvertently make a mistake over the laundry allowance or penalty rates.”
Retail Zoo has had to take action to stay ahead of the game. The company is in a Proactive Compliance Deed with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure employees are paid correctly. This requires the business to audit 10 per cent of the network: but the franchisor goes further and reviews 30 per cent.
Technology can simplify the process and allow the franchisor to easily update regulatory information. For instance, information had to be altered to show the latest domestic violence leave and the new award rates that came into effect in July, Fisher points out.
Retail Zoo has been using an onboarding platform for about two and a half years across its corporate business.
“The policies and contracts at the start of an appointment are all automated, and an employee can’t get on to payroll without entering their own bank details, confirming their right to work. We make sure the national employment standard is included. It’s all set up.”
While the business is yet to roll this out to its franchisees, Fisher sees potential value in delivering this option to larger multi-unit franchisees.
“Larger groups would probably benefit in terms of paperwork. It gets quite tedious, and it’s very easy to forget to add the NES, or overlook a policy, and then you’re in hot water.”
Peter Forbes, CEO of the platform HR Onboard, says the out of the box program, targeted for Australia and New Zealand, provides franchisors with the opportunity to tailor to individual requirements.
“There’s not a lot for the individual franchisee to do. We have company and location models in the platform that allow for each franchisee to have their own ABN, ACN.”
The program operates on a web browser.
“What’s unique is that we have controls so we can roll out to a decentralised recruitment model that allows each manager to do their own thing. It protects the brand but it’s flexible enought for managers to hire their own staff.”
The platform is rolling out across another large franchise network, with 800 stores but Forbes believes it has value for a franchisor with as little as 10 outlets and has appeal to the Millennial generation, particularly relevant for employers in the fast food sector.
“From the employee side, in retail it’s quite competitive to get candidates. Managers can formally offer within minutes, and the candidate can accept on their mobile phone. These employees expect it to be a digital process.”
Fishers reports the platform has had a positive impact on payroll systems, reducing the chance of incorrect payments and cutting down the hours required to send and receive paperwork.
Figures such as BSBs and tax file numbers can be immediately verified when entered and employees can check employment details at any time.