“Is my boss required to give me a detailed pay stub?”


“My boss refuses to give me a pay stub. Every pay period, I just receive a check. The problem is that our math doesn’t match up. My checks are always less than I expect, even when I try to account for taxes. Without the stub, I have no idea how she’s getting these numbers. What can I do?”

In our industry, keeping track of your income so you can calculate your commission can be difficult, and if you’re on an hourly vs/plus commission compensation plan, it can get incredibly complicated. How do you know that your paychecks are accurate if you aren’t getting pay stubs from your employer? Are you supposed to take it on faith that no mistakes were made?


Employers are required to keep records of your hours, sales, and pay rate information. If you request it, they have no excuse to keep it from you. I would be extremely suspicious of an owner that refuses to show you your detailed pay information upon request.

Unfortunately, employers in eight states still aren’t legally compelled to provide wage statements. Check this listing to determine whether your state happens to be one of them. If so, you can seek the services of an employment law attorney in your area or contact your state labor department to initiate a wage theft investigation.

In my experience, salon owners who have nothing to hide have no problem showing pay stubs and helping employees understand how their wages are calculated. I’d consider this a huge red flag if I were you.

To prevent this problem in the future, I recommend reading this post about how to prevent becoming a victim of wage theft. Then, read this post, which explains what you should do if you believe your wages have been stolen.

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


  1. I’ve been working at this barbershop for over a year now and have been a cosmetologist for 7 years, I started keeping track of all my services, clients, retail sales, and also do my fair share of cleaning, inventory, re-stocking retail shelves, almost everything you can think of to keep the business going. Im paid commission 65% just got a 5% raise last month. I started looking at my pay stubs which are typed out and printed on a regular piece of paper.. It never says my full total of services and retail sales, it only has my total for my 65%, in a real pay stub it usually has a detailed description of everything made and taking from your check. I work for a small business in alaska and have been scammed by a boss before tax fraud, then slander and not paying on time, and she happened to work for the person I work for now.. Seems like I should have seen the red flag but she disliked the person just as much as me so I figured she wouldn’t be anything like my old boss. It started out really great but she was due to have a baby and needed someone responsible to manage the shop and keep business going.. summer was approaching and in alaska on an island that means millions of tourist coming in town everyday, LOTS of money to be made. I worked alone for a while doing everything, at this time i was being paid 60% then we hired an employee and that helped a lot but my boss never returned full time after maternity time was up. A couple days a week she maybe comes in for a couple hours. Seems like she really dont want to be there or just lost the love to do hair. our other stylist left back home at this time so I was yet alone, for a little, then my boss hired another stylist who is temp. residing here until stationed elsewhere( coast guard related) anyway to get to the point my boss starts slacking my checks are late which I thought could be baby brain stressed mom or whatever else, but whenever she does work she does not stay long or bother picking up after herself, once in a while she will clean a little bit. after that I really got annoyed our supplies would be ordered late and among that my pay check being late for months in a row, im not rich and its the law and I dont think its fair for her to keep walking all over me. I started comparing my totals with her own made pay stubs and they wont add up till finally I noticed she was deducting her 35% before taking out taxes, so that is leaving my sum to take care of all the tax deductions… I also want to bring up being paid only commission for running the shop is not fair I need help on how to handle this without losing a job, I’ve had other offers here in this little city but a move could cost my clientele..which I cant afford.. I love what I do and eventually want my own salon and to teach people how to be a great cosmetologist, nothing feels better than making someone feel better about themselves after a service:) I dont know if its worth staying at this job I’m positive she is deducting her cut before taxes which I don’t think is fair at all, mainly because I don’t get paid for doing anything but what services I had and retail sold, and adding to that secretly getting screwed over for over a year, and getting screwed by my last boss! They need to really crack down on salon and barbers that are committing tax fraud and usually stylist as receptionist, they are two completely different jobs! I keep the shop nice because honestly I love my clientele and the shop reflects my image as well, so how do I confront my boss and make her do what is right and pay me for what I’m actually worth, sounds very vein but I work my ass off!

  2. As a mother of two, I can completely understand what your boss is going through. That sure as hell doesn’t justify it, but I understand. After I had my second child, I was all over the place. I couldn’t tell whether I was coming or going and no matter how early I got up there was never enough time in the day. Instead of hiring someone to work at my business, I found a partner, and everything has gone much better since then.

    There are a few different ways you can approach this. First, assume the mistake was just that–a mistake. Tell her that you’ve noticed discrepancies with your pay and show her by doing the math in front of her (or having it calculated already).

    Explain to her that you love working for her and you want to help her keep the salon successful but she has to work with you by cleaning up after herself on the rare occasions that she does come in.

    As far as the management is concerned (and that’s exactly what you are right now, even without the title), you really do need to be getting compensated for that in some way or she needs to hire someone to do the reception and cleaning while you’re working.

    You should also make her aware that she is required by federal law to abide by the FLSA, which states that if your commission check does not equal or exceed minimum wage for the hours that you’ve worked, she has to make up the difference. Commission-only is only legal if you’ve made the minimum-wage equivalent or more–and tips do not count.

    If I were in your position, I would ask her if you could rent your booth from now on. That way, she’ll know that she’ll make money, she won’t have to do your payroll anymore (freeing her up to do any one of the ten thousand things a day new mothers have to do, lol), and you’ll be in charge of your own finances. If you have a following, paying a weekly rent on your station won’t be a problem and you should actually make out better than you are (as long as she makes the rent reasonable).

    It sounds like she’s overwhelmed and is putting too much on you. You didn’t sign up for that and you aren’t getting paid for it. It’s unfair and she has to understand that. Your commission is high, but this deal is hurting both of you for multiple reasons.

  3. I really appreciate your advice cause I don’t have many people to talk to about this who get what I’m coming from.. So I asked my boss for a couple days off in the summer in June which is pretty busy in Alaska lots of cruise ships coming in on a daily basis, but my grandmother and father who I am very close with and haven’t seen since I was in beauty school living with them. I only asked for 2 days and she told me we would talk when she came in. I have not had any vacation days since my hire day, over a year and three months, my other new co-worker who we hired in September has already had two vacations no questions asked. When she came in to talk to me it was mainly her just wanting to know what one of my clients had said about another business owner who was actually my new bosses ex employee who now owns a business here as well and I worked for her before my current boss now, but quickly learned she doesn’t go by the books. I got out of there quick, same things happened with her as they are now.. but my boss also told me she is going to charge me for product because we were using a lot lately as well as foils… I didn’t understand because I thought that is what her 35% was for.. and she also ordered everything late so we ran out of stuff.. I just was taken by surprise because it was all just her telling me negative feedback. Didn’t even answer me about the two days off. I went into our computer and printed off my year and three months on services and retail sales, what I found was pretty shocking but it’s happened to me before. There was a lot of unpaid services and service amounts changed to military discount when there was a non military haircut giving her two dollars extra, changing other services to more

  4. kid’s cuts, I usually get 4-5 kid’s cuts a day neither all the Military Discounted stuff, there were also foils that I wasn’t giving any commission for. I’ve been freaking out researching everything all week cause I want to bring it to her attention, cause she would have to go into the computer herself and change the cost of those services making it look like I didn’t make as much. I still have not gotten my March 1st pay stub either. Things just aren’t adding up to me I’ve been going through all these invoices and it seems since fall when we lost our employee who did make more money and the tour season died till next summer. I have a steady clientele but there are those days where you sit and do nothing, but my co-worker we hired in the fall does not. She takes mainly walk ins, therefore she is not making my bosses business money as me. So since then month by month there is more services changed and not even being paid for some stuff which starts to add up, I know winter in Alaska is rough but stealing is wrong and its really effecting my ability to want to work for her. I want to bring to her attention that I want to booth rent and she needs to start following the laws or I’m going to have to tell state boards as much as I don’t want to.. But this is the second time it’s happened and it’s time people go by the books or just don’t be a salon owner or hire someone who can do her books. I don’t know I feel like since she has already been robbing me dollar by dollar and wanting more that I don’t want to work in that environment, and put in my two weeks along with letting her know that I now know why my checks never added up to what I write in my book with all my services and tips and client…I’m going to talk to another salon owner here where I live tomorrow so I can get a second opinion… also Why would she take her portion daily from me on our daily printouts and then the remainder on every day I worked add them up why not wait till the pay period ends and do it as a sum, seeing how she does take a portion of my wages. I made over 1600.00 in services and some retail sales which I get 10% but when I got my check it was 751.00 just seems like a lot of money to take out of a bi-weekly pay period, and also still no pay stub to compare my services with what she has..unless she knows I’ve figured her out..

  5. Woah. Yeah, that is a lot of missing money. You should not be responsible for her poor business planning. If times are tough, she needs to figure it out, not punish you for it. You need to find out how much she owes you and take her to small claims court to get that money back. You absolutely do not deserve to be taken advantage of like that.

  6. In Pa my boss also takes as much as much $10.00 for a color service for hair color/perms.The other salons I worked for did not deduct money off the top for hair color and every service we do,also deducts a couple dollars for haircuts even if client did not want a blow dry before my 50% commission/minimum wage 7.25 or what ever is greater I did not agree to that when I was hired I have been there a year and a half,agreed only to 50% for services I perform.The other problem I notice on my pay stub is that my hours are not there, my rate of pay for that week, beginning and ending dates, and gross earnings. I asked only about that and she said oh well you have to wait till I get my W-2 at the end of year. I am really upset that I only made a little over $7,000.I work 3-4 days a week. Please let me know if this is shady. I love your blog, it really is helpful. Thank you

  7. Pls help? I have read iver these post and i still need clarification,, i work in a nail shop as the only stylist, i was told to use her logo on my cards, i do not pay booth rent, my pay is 45 and she receives 55, i get a check written by her with her company logo, i do not pay for any supplies, she does advertise me in her advertisements. I set my own hours and do my own booking i cash the customers out with her vredit machines , i take note of every service charge and tip, at the end if the week ahe adds up what i brought in and divieds it by 45 and i also recieve my tips,, what am i classufied as? Her accountant saud i would be 1099 at the end of the year im terrified,, pls help


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