19 December 2014

There is no excuse for hairdressing salons failing to pay their workers the correct minimum wage, and salons that do so are giving the whole industry a bad reputation, the NHBF has said.

The warning has come after the government published its latest Apprenticeship Pay Survey, which indicated hairdressing is by far the worst industry for failing to pay apprentices their correct minimum wage, with 42% of Level 2 and Level 3 apprentices not being paid what they should be.

This is, in fact, an improvement on the 69% reported two years ago, when the government last published this survey.

But it is still far higher than the next worst offender, children’s care at 26% and, said NHBF president Paul Curry, is a “disgrace” the industry needs to tackle as a matter of urgency.

The NHBF has worked extremely hard to raise awareness of the correct national minimum wage rates for all workers, not just apprentices. Salon owners need to recognise that, at the end of the day, the minimum wage is the law. For more than four out of 10 apprentices to be being paid below their rightful wage is a disgrace to the reputation of the whole industry.”

The government has indicated HM Revenue & Customs will launch an enforcement drive specifically targeting hairdressing. Fines for non-compliance are also due to rise next summer, from £20,000 in total to £20,000 per underpaid worker.

“Salons may not like it but, given the findings of this report, it is hardly surprising HMRC is taking this action. The NHBF will continue to work with, and support, members and the industry as a whole, but ultimately it is up to salons themselves to get this right,” said Paul.

“Salons need to be reviewing their payroll systems as a matter of urgency – even if their payroll is being managed by someone else – to ensure they are compliant and paying the right wage,” he added.

Hellen Ward, managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London and leader of the strategic “trailblazer” group on hairdressing that has recently created new training standards for apprentices, added:

How are we going to attract talented youngsters onto hairdressing apprenticeships if they see hairdressing as a low-pay industry with employers who have a reputation for paying their workers less than the legal rate? This is an issue the whole industry needs to come together on, and fast.”