It is a luxury for most women and a regular routine for many women (and men) to get their manicures and pedicures done. We pay the bill and tip the manicurists and go on with our day. However, what's the real cost of those acrylics or that gel manicure?
In Little Saigon, members of the California Health Nail Salon Collaborative hosted a community forum for both workers and owners to listen and speak about the growing national spotlight on the treatment of manicurists in the industry. In the status quo, many owners don't know what the proper regulations for business are; they merely follow the model and example that owners before them followed.
There are often no paper records for the manicurists working in salons; they are paid cash and work whatever hours the owners need them to—even if it's after closing and they've hit all sorts of overtime hours. If the owner does have some sort of tax record for their manicurists, it's usually a 1099. Salon workers are consistently misclassified as independent contractors though they are under the full control of the salon and are treated as employees.
Last year, average manicurists made $22,500. Often, these employees are working 60 hour work weeks, but not getting paid proper overtime rates of pay or meal/rest breaks. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, Tony Pham and Lydia Nguyen, spoke to the largely Vietnamese forum. They explained when investigators inspect salons, the first document they will ask for are time cards.
Both manicurists and owners at the forum talked about the “customer is first” mentality of nail salons. Saying no to a customer who walks in right at closing is difficult, so the manicurists stay to work. Those hours add up, but not at a rate favorable to the employee.
Source: LA Times