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If you've been in the business world long enough, you've ran into executives at both small and big companies making agreements to not recruit other company's employees.  These agreements are a by-product of the good-ole-boy network and usually the result of one executive knowing another and agreeing to keep each other's companies "off-limits" to recruiting efforts.

It's called collusion, right?  Funny thing is, HR has never really had a voice in that.  Instead, we find out what the agreement is "ex post facto" and if we're really lucky, we get to ruin someone's life by retracting an offer due to these informal agreements - after that employee has already resigned at their current company. Trading places

It's always been stupid like that.  The good news is that the legal system is rapidly taking these agreements off the table.  First it was Silicon Valley and now seven fast food chains — including Arby's, Cinnabon and McDonald's — have pledged to end so-called "no-poaching" rules that have prevented employees from moving from one franchise to another within the same restaurant chain: More from CNN:

"Washington state's Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday the agreement could end the practice at roughly 25,000 restaurants nationwide.

The move will mean fairer hiring practices for "tens of thousands of low-wage" workers in the United States, Ferguson's office said. His office also said it will take legal action against franchises that violate the agreement, and the companies could face civil penalties or fines.

The fast food chains included in the agreement are Arby's, Auntie Anne's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl's Jr., Cinnabon, Jimmy John's, and McDonald's (MCD).

"No-poach" rules bar workers at franchise-owned restaurants from being hired by a separate franchise within the same chain.

Because such rules are usually laid out in company-franchise contracts, and not in worker agreements, employees have often been unaware they existed, Ferguson's office said."

Uh, yeah - the employees didn't know they existed because they are LITERALLY THE LAST THING ON ANYONE'S MIND IN THESE AGREEMENTS.

The no-poach agreement will continue to exist in pockets, but I've got good news for my HR leaders who are expected to enforce them.

You can now tell your company they are illegal as hell.

Score one for the worker.  I'm generally pro-business, but c'mon.  A no-poach agreement that means a counter worker at Arby's can't move to another Arby's?

This is why we can't have nice things.


maria helm

In thinking about why this might have been created, I can imagine that some franchisee must have taken advantage of the training program of another franchisee. (We'll let Bob train people at his store, and if they work out, we know they're good employees and we don't have to train them. So we just poach them by offering x amount more. We get to skip the effort of training and risk involved with unknown hires.)

The fact that the employees weren't aware is problematic. This would have prevented a good, trained employee from being offered higher pay at a different location.

It's my understanding that a lot of franchises limit locations/owners geographically to prevent competition (for customers OR employees), which I think is the solution here for the franchise owners concerned about poaching. But the result is the same for the worker - no ability for movement.

Not sure what the solution here is, but it seems (from a worker's perspective) that these jobs have little enough in their favor, with low wages and little upward movement, without limiting them even further.


Maria -

Good point on poaching from people that train better than you do. I would imagine that happens at the manager level a good bit, as someone who isn't good at training probably doesn't care about the resulting service levels, right? #priorities


Best way to keep an employee after you have trained them? Treat them well, pay them well, make staying more appealing than leaving.

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