Who is and isn’t responsible for workers Health and Safety is especially complex when it comes to franchises. And, the reality is that many franchisees and franchisors don’t understand the legislation and how it applies to them.
As a franchisee, you are the employer
You hire people to work in your business and are responsible for their health, safety and welfare when they’re at work. Generally speaking you have the same OHS responsibilities as any other business.
But… the franchisor often dictates processes, procedures and equipment
This is where it gets complicated. Typically, an employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their people. They develop and implement the Safety Management Systems, Induction and Training Programs, select equipment and machinery and are responsible for reviewing, monitoring and managing safety. But, in many franchises these things are dictated by the franchisor and the franchisee has little or no say… And this is where the lines get blury.
Case in point
Pizza Chain prosecutions
Franchisee fined $10,000
In 2002/03 Rozman Holdings Pty, a pizza chain franchisee, was convicted and fined $10,000 for failing to provide a safe working environment and failing to provide safe plant and systems of work following an incident where a 15 year old employee’s hand was caught in a dough rolling machine.
Franchisor fined $15,000
The owner of the Australia wide franchise, Yum! Restaurants Australia Pty Ltd was also charged and fined $15,000 for a breach of occupational health and safety laws.
Yum! Restaurants were also charged because it was deemed to have OHS obligations through its franchising arrangements with Rozman Holdings. The franchise arrangement specified the type of equipment to be used along with the preventative maintenance schedules.
Yum! Restaurants had been aware of faults with the dough rolling machine. While they stated that they had warned outlets, including Rozman Holdings Pty, about the faulty equipment, they had not been strong enough in instructing and following through to verify repairs had been made.
Both parties have to fully understand their safety obligations
Now, franchisees this doesn’t mean that operating within a franchise arrangement lessens your OHS responsibilities in any way. It highlights how essential it is for both franchisees and franchisors to truly understand how health and safety legislation applies to their arrangements. The complexity of it all means that often your best course of action is to get specialist advice.
While injury prevention may feel like yet another cost to your business, not implementing injury prevention strategies can result in even more costly outcomes. OHS prosecutions result in criminal convictions – often against individuals. Worksafe Authorities are increasingly prosecuting individuals rather than companies.
Need advice ?
With years of experience working with franchises and franchisors, we have a comprehensive understanding of the nuances and complexities that surround OHS and WHS responsibilities in the franchise sector. Get in touch with us if you need help understanding your obligations and meeting your responsibilities.