11 October 2013

Hairdressers and barbers will need to ensure they are sticking absolutely to the letter of paying the national minimum wage (NMW) if they want to retain any leverage in future debate about pay levels and enforcement regimes, the NHBF has said.

The warning has been made following a low pay event organised by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and attended by business secretary Vince Cable, at which it was made clear enforcement of the NMW is set to be a priority for the government over the coming months, with a tougher “naming and shaming” regime coming into force this month.

It also comes just days after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published research suggesting hairdressing is one of the worst offenders when it comes to industries that fail to pay apprentices their correct NMW rate.

Nearly seven out ten (69 per cent) hairdressing apprentices were paid less than the legal minimum wage in 2012, the Apprenticeship Pay Survey showed.

Against this backdrop, it is vital hairdressing salons and barber shops can show they are applying and paying the NMW correctly and consistently.

NHBF chief executive Hilary Hall, who was one of a select audience invited to the event, said one way salons could set the right example was simply by joining the Federation.

It is clear there will be increasing emphasis on compliance around the NMW in the coming months; not least because this is an issue all the political parties are focusing on right now. 

Salons and barber shops are often small businesses without HR support.  They do complain they can find the NMW complex and difficult to get right, but it is imperative hairdressers and barbers of whatever size ensure they are meeting their obligations to their staff under the NMW. At the NHBF we provide extensive support around compliance, and our standard employee contracts include an obligation that the employer pays the NMW.


“The worry is, with many parts of the economy now showing signs of recovery, the political pressure will grow for substantial increases to be made to the NMW. Yet our own research has suggested 25% of our members saw their turnover decline last year and so, for many, there is as yet precious little sign of economic green-shoots.

“But our industry can only argue the case for continuing wage restraint on the high street if it first puts its own house in order.”