Wage Violations in the Hair Salon Industry

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Salons and spas are a major part of the beauty industry. Unfortunately, many salons and spas do not follow labor laws when it comes to paying their employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is designed to protect workers from unfair pay practices such as minimum wage violations, overtime violations, and failure to compensate for hours worked off-the-clock. Understanding how these three FLSA violations can occur in salon and spa settings will help you better understand your rights as an employee in this industry.

Minimum Wage Violations
The FLSA requires that employees are paid minimum wage. It further stipulates that employer must ensure employees are paid at least the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour, or higher state minimum wage if applicable. As an employee in a salon or spa, you must be paid for all hours worked even when you work during non-scheduled periods. While salons may have policies against employees working during scheduled breaks, they cannot prohibit you from doing so without adverse employment action being taken against you. For example, your employer cannot demote or fire you because of this violation as long as it occurs infrequently and does not interfere with work performance. However, a practice should result in additional compensation for the hours you worked during your break period.

Overtime Violations
The time employees work beyond their regularly scheduled shifts is considered overtime and, as such, must be paid at a rate of not less than one and a half times the employee’s regular hourly wage. When an employer requires more hours from an employee than those they initially agreed to work without offering additional compensation, they have violated FLSA regulations on overtime pay. Additionally, salons may require that employees work more than a specified number of consecutive days without offering them additional pay for these extra hours. This can result in violations of FLSA rules on minimum wage and overtime depending on how many consecutive days the required you to do so. While salons and spas are allowed to schedule their employees to work back-to-back shifts, they must receive prior consent from employees before doing so for them not to be considered overtime. Failure for an employer to do this can result in employers having to pay out extensive amounts of overtime wages that were accrued over the course of several weeks or months.

On-Call Overtime
Suppose you are required by your salon or spa’s policies to remain on-call during your non-working hours (i.e., while at home); these periods should be compensated per FLSA regulations. For example, if your employer requires you to carry a pager, cell phone, or another device that enables you to respond within one hour when you are called into work, this constitutes an on-call shift. As such, the periods you wait for a call (and are not engaged in personal pursuits) should be compensated at your regular hourly pay or 1.5 times that rate if it is greater than your average compensation.

Additionally, salons and spas cannot require you to stay on-call during scheduled breaks or meal periods unless this time too is compensated per FLSA guidelines. This is also considered compensable time if during your break or meal period you are required to carry a beeper, cell phone, or other such device and must respond within one hour when called.

Off-The Clock Work
It is an FLSA violation for employers to require employees to perform work, even before their shift starts, without compensating them for that time. For example, it is illegal for salons and spas to require that employees arrive early to set up their station before clocking in or complete work-related tasks after they have already clocked out for the day. Doing so would subject employers to minimum wage violations because this amounts to working off-the-clock without receiving any pay.

As an employee in the beauty industry, understanding how wage violations can occur under federal laws is important to help ensure that your rights are protected while maintaining professional standards within salon establishments across the country. This will help employers maintain good labor practices and avoid costly lawsuits brought about by employees who feel they have been wronged in their labor conditions.

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