[AASM] “Is the salon owner required to track our hours?”


“My salon owner doesn’t track our hours and doesn’t give us wage statements. When I asked her if she could provide me with more detailed pay stubs that specifies the time worked and itemized the ‘product fees’ she deducts from our wages, she refused. After finding your site and doing more research, it seems to me that she’s not permitted to deduct fees from our wages in our state and is required to comply with state and federal reporting requirements.

I told her this, but she immediately dismissed me, telling me that I’m wrong and that she’ll just stick to what her lawyer advised her to do, since (in her words) ‘he’s more qualified than a beautician to make legal recommendations.’

I’m pissed that she was so rude, and since this is one of many issues I’ve been dealing with from her I will definitely be finding a new salon to work in, but before I go I want to present her with the actual laws.”

Well, lawyers are more qualified than we are to make legal recommendations, but I highly doubt a lawyer advised her to commit wage theft and told her not to comply with the recordkeeping requirements.

In my experience, most salon owners don’t prioritize legal advice, but are happy to lie about having done so to silence inquisitive employees.

For many of these salon owners, their first contact with a lawyer is after they’ve been served with a civil suit or visited by a DOL investigator for violations (and by then, it’s too late).

Fun fact: attorneys will not advise people to break the law or encourage them to neglect compliance.

Recordkeeping is mandatory in all states for covered employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and most states also have their own recordkeeping requirements as well. The FLSA recordkeeping requirements dictate that employers are to retain records for up to three years, and some states require them to be retained for longer. The FLSA requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned, and requires this information to be accurate.

The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain:

  1. Employee’s full name and social security number.
  2. Address, including zip code.
  3. Birth date, if younger than 19.
  4. Sex and occupation.
  5. Time and day of week when employee’s workweek begins.
  6. Hours worked each day.
  7. Total hours worked each workweek.
  8. Basis on which employee’s wages are paid
  9. Regular hourly pay rate.
  10. Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
  11. Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
  12. All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages.
  13. Total wages paid each pay period.
  14. Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

If your employer isn’t keeping these records, they’re not in compliance, and that’s a big deal, especially if they’re making impermissible deductions from your wages.

Failure to comply can result in fines, penalties, and all kinds of other nasty consequences. For instance, when it comes to proving compliance with prevailing wage and overtime laws, the burden lies on the employer. Meeting this burden of proof is impossible without time records, so theoretically, an employee can claim they worked far more hours than they actually did, sue the employer for unpaid time, and potentially win if the employer can’t provide records to dispute the claim.

In addition to the FLSA recordkeeping requirements, multiple acts (Federal Unemployment Tax Act, Federal Income Tax Withholding, and Federal Insurance Contribution Act) require employers to record the amount of wages subject to withholding, agreements with employees to withhold additional tax, the amounts of actual taxes withheld and dates withheld, and reasons for any difference between total tax payments and actual tax payments, along with copies of withholding forms. These records must be kept for four years.

Bonus Round! The Occupational Health & Safety Act (for businesses with 10 or more employees), requires owners to retain a log of occupational injuries, illnesses, and exposures to toxic substances, along with all related records and summaries. These records must be retained five years following the year the records pertain to, except for medical exams, MSDS sheets, and exposure to toxic substances records, which must be retained for the duration of the employee’s job tenure PLUS 30 years.

Not only is she required to keep these records, depending on your state laws, she may be required to provide detailed pay stubs routinely, or immediately upon request. Regardless of the applicable laws, if she’s using a computerized system for payroll, she has no excuse not to provide those records.

Visit those links, fire up your printer, and bust out your highlighter. If I were you, I’d put it all together in a neat little packet, with my resignation letter right on top.

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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. Thank you for this information. Any chance I can contact you via email? I’d love to ask you a question related to this article! Thank you!

    • Sure! Just use the contact form on this site. I try to respond in a relatively timely manner, but sometimes it can take me a week or so to get through all the emails I receive.

  2. My former boss did this same thing, I was commission based but the check stubs never listed the hours or wage pay just the total check amount and the tax deductions. She also switched me to an independent contractor without my consent, I never signed anything agreeing to this. She approached me and asked if I’d like to switch from employee to independent contractor. I talked to my accountant and she said it wouldn’t be smart to get a 1099 and advised me to stay an employee. I told my boss this and she said “okay we will discuss this at the meeting.” It was never discussed, but the red flag was waved when in January I received W2 and a 1099 for 2015 taxes. Is this okay for her to do?? I am so grateful I found this website!!

    • It definitely wasn’t okay for her to do. Your next step would be to file an SS-8 with the IRS, and file your taxes as if you were lawfully employed.

  3. My old boss is withholding my last 2 paychecks for 30 days. She is threatening to call my new employer and tell her untrue statements, I have ALL her statements via text msg. I have filed suit with the dept of labor with hopes to get this all taken care of. She has ALWAYS just paid us commission, and sometimes I’d sit at the shop for 8 hours and not even make enough commission to total up a full day at minimum wage. Can you please tell me if she was right ir wrong in doing this?? And what steps to takr in order to get my pay the right way. Thank you

    • LOL, she’s for damn sure not right in this situation. You’re already doing the right thing by filing the complaint, but keep on top of it to make sure they take action. Call routinely to check the status of your case. If you feel like the state is failing you, contact an employee rights attorney to either move things along or pursue your complaints yourself. She sounds like a bully who is being an asshole just to be an asshole. She likely thinks you aren’t going to do anything about it. Show her she’s wrong. Typically, a strongly worded letter from an attorney is enough to put a stop to it and have your demands met, but you also have the right to file in small claims court. In any case, I recommend talking to an attorney about your options as soon as you can arrange to.

  4. My salon is commission in Colorado. Reading the article, I’m fairly confident I am doing everything correctly in regards to payroll. My staff makes great paychecks, but I don’t make them clock in. Should I?
    How do I find out Colorado laws?

    • If they’re employees, yes. Colorado state law may or may not require it, but federal law does, so you’re required to keep those records no matter which state you reside in. (The lack of state requirements just means there are no state penalties for failing to do so, not that you aren’t required to at all.)


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