Imagine you just bought your new franchise business and were handed some templates/recommendations for an Employee Handbook, Policies/Procedures, and Forms from the former owner, a payroll provider/PEO, and/or the franchisor. You’re told these will cover your Human Resources (HR) needs. The question is, are they compliant and defensible and do they fit your desired culture?
A few weeks later, you’re faced with an “employee relations issue” due to a very disgruntled employee who is unhappy with the new management and the accountability that is now expected. Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t fit the provided documentation you were given, so now what do you do?
First, you call the franchisor and ask for clarification on the employee relation issue and what forms to use and/or documentation that is on file regarding the employee. Their answer: they don’t have any documentation on file for the employee, and they do not provide HR support—call the payroll provider/PEO.
Next, you call the payroll provider/PEO and ask them the same questions. They don’t have any documentation on file for the employee either. They tell you to use your best judgment on the situation using the documentation provided. And good luck!
From bad to worse
Now things are beginning to escalate with the employee. Additionally, other employees are refusing to go to their assigned work sites. They proceed to stage a “sit-in” (yes, a sit-in!) at the office. They begin chanting, “We work when we want, how we want, and where we want; you might own the business, but we run the business!” Then the sit-in escalates to a “stand in your face” situation? Now what?
A 9-1-1 call
Believe it or not, this situation really did happen in the Triangle area to a new franchise owner. At this point in the story, during the escalation to the “stand in your face” situation, the owner called their co-owner/spouse who suggested calling the police who would then be on their way ASAP.
As the police arrived, the employees were terminated for refusing to go to work and for also causing some damage to the office. Law enforcement escorted the terminated employees off of the premise for trespassing. Before the termed employees had even left the parking lot in their cars, there were already making threatening and fraudulent claims on social media.
Calls for help
At this point, the owners called their business attorney who in turn recommended they immediately call 1) a recommended employment attorney, and 2) a recommended HR Consultant as both could better assist them with the situation at hand and going forward.
Upon review by the HR Consultant, the templates/recommendations on the HR documents–Employee Handbook, Policies/Procedures, and Forms–were not compliant nor did they contain HR Best Practices. Additionally, some specific documents were not compliant for North Carolina.
The HR Consultant and the employment attorney worked with the owners to bring the HR practices, policies, procedures, and documentation in to compliance, while supporting the new culture they want to instill in the company going forward.
Is HR one-size-fits-all?
This scenario shows that HR is definitely not one-size-fits-all. State compliance issues vary from state to state. Every business, regardless if it is a start-up or a franchise, profit or non-profit, small or large is absolutely different. Culture is specific to each individual company, and the expectations, values, mission, and vision along with the HR practices, policies/procedures, documentation, and communication are unique. An HR one-size template does not fit at all.
Missteps can be costly
Before you’re faced with a difficult employee relation situation, be sure your HR practices, policies, procedures, documentation, and communications support your company culture, as well as, verifying that they are compliant and defensible. Just because you found a document on the Internet or are going with a document from another entity doesn’t mean it is compliant and/or defensible.
Any misstep can be costly to your business—fines, penalties, settlements, etc. If you’re unaware or uninformed regarding employment regulations or HR Best Practices, seek qualified HR assistance. Guard yourself from having a “penalty flag” thrown by a disgruntled employee or government agency.
For assistance with employment regulations, compliance, and/or HR best practices, please contact Close HR.