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 not happy 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 judgement on the situation using the documentation provided. 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 turns into a “stand in your face” situation? Now what?
A 9-1-1 call
Believe it or not, this situation recently happened 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.
As of this time, the HR Consultant and the employment attorney are working 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?
The answer is no. 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 different, period. 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.
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 any employment regulations or HR Best Practices, know that Close HR can help. Guard yourself from having a “penalty flag” thrown by a disgruntled employee or government agency. Don’t hesitate to contact us to assist you with building a solid and defensible HR Game Plan for your company.