12 October 2018

An influential report by the government's Education Select Committee has recommended that above-inflation rises to the National Minimum Wage rates for apprentices should continue, with a longer-term goal of scrapping them altogether.  This would mean apprentices would be paid at their age-related rate, not the apprenticeship rate.

NHBF chief executive said, "Scrapping the Apprenticeship rate would have a massive impact on the hairdressing industry, which is one of the biggest employers of apprentices.  Decisions on minimum wages sit with the independent Low Pay Commission, rather than with the government, but there is no doubt that there will be increasing pressure to raise apprentice wages.  If the apprenticeship rate was scrapped altogether, apprentices would become unaffordable, while the competition for qualified and experienced hairdressers would further intensify.  We know that salons up and down the country already struggle to recruit good staff."

The report also called for many more prosecutions and bigger fines for underpaying employers.  As the report also stated that underpayment of Minimum Wage was routine within the hairdressing industry, the NHBF now expects salons to be deliberately targeted for HMRC investigations.

It's not enough to think you know how to apply the National Minimum Wage - check, check and check again

Hilary added, "While the NHBF has called for HMRC and other enforcement bodies to actively target those cut price ‘cash in hand’ businesses who flout all the rules, it's time for all salons to take these warnings seriously.  It's not enough to think you know how to apply the National Minimum Wage - check, check and check again. Employers get into trouble about the time staff actually start work, payment for training time eg model nights, deductions for uniforms and equipment, and failing to pay apprentices aged 19 or over the age-related rate in the second year of their apprenticeship.  The NHBF has a wealth of resources including a free helpline to help employers get minimum wages rates right."