Know Your Rights in the Salon: Employee, Independent Contractor, Booth Renter

Do you know what your rights are as a beauty professional? The terminology can be confusing. Are you classified as an employee or are you considered self-employed, and what’s the difference between them? Where do booth renters fit into all this?

This article defines the common roles and classifications found in the beauty industry and outlines common abuses all professionals need to be aware of. Know what your rights are in your workplace.

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In a salon, you are either self-employed or an employee. You can not be “half” anything.

Employees are on the salon’s payroll and are usually paid hourly, commission, or some combination of both.


Employees come in two varieties: exempt and non-exempt. 

Unless they’re salaried in compliance with the FLSA (or state/city legislation), employees are considered non-exempt, which means they’re entitled to the prevailing minimum wage and overtime wages.

Salaried workers are considered exempt from the prevailing minimum wage laws and overtime laws, but they’re still typically protected by the other provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Are salon employees required to be paid minimum wage and overtime?

Regardless of the compensation method (commission or hourly), employers must generally ensure to pay their non-exempt (non-salaried) employees at least the prevailing minimum wage, whether the employee is working on a client or not.

Who pays the taxes? What tax form does a salon employee receive?

Each paycheck, employers are required to withhold the employee’s half of their employment taxes. The employer matches the employee’s contribution by remitting the other half. That equal tax contribution is the price employers pay for full control over the employee.

Employees receive a W-2 at the end of the tax year.

What benefits do salon employees receive?

Employees are generally covered by worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and the salon’s professional liability insurance policy. They are also entitled to numerous protections offered by state and federal agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Labor. Salon owners are not obligated to provide any benefits beyond those mandated by law.

Do salon owners need to track employee hours?

Yes. Time tracking is a mandatory federal requirement, so salon employees need to be clocking-in and clocking-out daily.

Is a salon professional an at-will employee?

All U.S. states consider employment at-will, which means employees can quit at any time. They can also be fired at any time for virtually any reason, so long as it the termination isn’t discriminatory or retaliatory.

What is an employee’s role?

Employees are required to follow their employer’s directives. This means employees must:

  • work the employer’s schedule,
  • adhere to salon policies and dress codes,
  • use whatever products the salon requires them to use and perform services in accordance with the salon’s protocols.

Employees are also required to participate in promotional events (discounts, coupons, etc.), continuing education, and mandatory meetings.

Does the salon owner have to pay salon employees for mandatory meetings, training, and promotional events?

Yes. Any time the employer requires an employee to be present, that time is compensable and the employee must be paid.

Do salon professionals compensated by commission have to do work they’re not getting paid to do, like cleaning, answering phones, and doing laundry?

If you are being paid commission versus or commission plus hourly, your employer is FLSA-compliant. You are being legally and properly compensated for your time spent performing chores and other duties, since your employer is ensuring your wages meet or exceed the prevailing minimum wage.

If you are working for a salon owner who is not FLSA-compliant, then you have no obligation to obey the so-called employer, since you are not being legally compensated.

Can the salon owner require employees to stay in the salon when they have no clients booked?

If you’re a W-2 employee and the salon owner is FLSA-compliant, you are obligated to obey your employer or forfeit your position.

If you are not a properly classified employee and the salon owner is not FLSA-compliant, you have no obligation to obey.

Does the salon owner have to provide supplies and products to their employees? Is it legal for the salon owner to deduct fees from my paycheck?

The employer provides all supplies and products. Employers, in most states, are not permitted to arbitrarily deduct money from the employee’s wages to cover cost of doing business expenses, like product.

Who collects the money?

An employee’s clients pay at a centralized location, usually at a reception desk. Aside from tips, employees are never paid directly by customers.

Who controls the client contact information and the appointment book?

The employer is legally entitled to control and retain the salon’s client contact data and may prohibit employees from taking that data or using it to harm the business.

Self-Employed Professionals

What does it mean to be “self-employed” in the beauty industry?

If you are self-employed, you are a business owner.

Self-employed professionals run their own businesses and are completely independent from the rest of the facility in which they work. Booth, suite, and studio renters are commercial tenants who lease space. Freelancers often perform session work or special events for a wide variety of companies. Many professionals who freelance are also renters or salon owners.

Self-employed professionals are entirely responsible for acquiring new customers, providing their own supplies, managing their clients, securing their own benefits, and paying their own taxes.

What is the role of a self-employed beauty professional?

Self-employed professionals keep 100% of their revenue, pay for their own product and supplies, set their own prices, and work on their own schedule at their own convenience. They answer to nobody. To clarify, this means that self-employed professionals:

  • choose which products they are going to use and sell
  • perform their services however they please, and
  • have their own salon management software.

Who collects the money?

Clients pay renters (and most other self-employed professionals) directly.

Under no circumstance should a client of a self-employed beauty professional be paying a salon landlord, nor should the self-employed professional be receiving a paycheck from their landlord.

Who controls the client data?

Self-employed professionals are solely responsible for booking their own customers and maintaining their client data. Nobody else is entitled to that information, nor can anyone require them to turn that data over (for instance, as a condition of their rental agreement).

Can a renter or self-employed professional be fired?

Renters cannot be fired. They must be properly evicted in accordance with the lease agreement or the state’s commercial landlord/tenant laws.

To a renter, a salon owner is nothing more than a landlord.

It’s important for salon landlords to understand that they cannot:

  • dictate a booth renter’s schedule,
  • force the booth renter to have their clients pay for their services at a centralized location (like a reception desk),
  • tell a booth renter what products to use, how to perform a service, or what to charge for their services,
  • force a booth renter to participate in a promotion or coupon unless agreed upon in writing.
  • “fire” a booth renter,
  • force a booth renter to adhere to a dress code or other salon guidelines or rules, or
  • require the booth renter to use the salon’s branding or promote the salon’s name in any of their marketing materials.

Do freelancers and renters get benefits?

Self-employed professionals must secure their own benefits. In addition to being ineligible for benefits, self-employed professionals are also not provided any state or federal protections from agencies like the Department of Labor or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What are renters entitled to?

Renters are only entitled to whatever their written lease agreement guarantees them. Renters are not entitled to free rent for vacation time, free backbar, or anything other than the space they’re paying for. Additionally, salon landlords are not required to provide renters with a clientele.

Are booth, suite, and studio renters required to have a key to the building?

The IRS no longer makes key-holding mandatory. As long as the renters have access to the building during the operating hours stated in their lease, they are not required to have keys. (And yes, renters and salon landlords, both of you need written leases.)

Who pays the taxes?

Self-employed professionals, in exchange for the freedom to operate their businesses without interference or control, pay the entirety of their self-employment tax.

Can a salon landlord prohibit a renter from selling retail?

If the landlord has a retail store in the salon, they can put a clause in their leases preventing tenants from competing with the retail store. Salon landlords cannot require tenants to retail their products, however. For a lot of landlords, retail boutiques help keep the business profitable (and keep tenant rent competitive).

Independent Contractors

Independent contractors are not employees. They are self-employed, just like renters and freelancers. Most independent contractors are illegally misclassified in this business.

Independent contractors almost never belong in the salon.

Independent contractors do not go to work every day, all day long, at the request of the salon owner. Much like a renter, independent contractors operate independently, free of control from the business owner. The salon is typically not their only place of employment, they are not leasing space, and they are not on the payroll.

Independent contractors are contracted, responsible for all of their own taxes, and do not answer to a salon owner except to ensure the contract terms have been fulfilled.

Independent contractors must be provided with a 1099 form at the end of the year by any person who has contracted them and paid them more than $600 in that year. That person may be the owner of another business (for instance, a corporate office that contracts a massage therapist to perform chair massages for special occasions or a photographer who routinely contracts an MUA for shoots) or a private customer.

Can an independent contractor (freelancer) be fired?

Independent contractors are not employees and therefore cannot be fired or controlled through the threat of dismissal, but they can be dismissed from a job site if they break the terms of their work agreement.

Freelancers sign work agreements, agreeing to perform a one-time job.

In our industry, freelancers are exclusively found on-set (fashion shows, photo shoots, film projects) or at special events (corporate parties, bridal showers, etc.).

I have written about this topic to death. If you remain subscribed to this blog, you’re going to be so informed about the abuse of the independent contractor status that tax attorneys will be awed by your knowledge, so for now, I’m going to tell you the four most important things you need to know:

1. Salon owners often use the independent contractor classification to evade employment taxes.

When exploitative owners classify professionals as independent contractors, they’re shoving the entire employment tax burden onto the professional, who will end up paying at least 15.3% of their income to the IRS at the end of the year. A good deal of these salon owners aren’t aware that this practice is illegal, but the IRS and DOL don’t care. Business owners are expected to do their own homework and make informed business management decisions.

As a worker,  you are not expected to suffer for anyone’s failure or inability to perform their own due diligence.   

2. Salon owners utilize the independent contractor classification to avoid wage and labor compliance.

When a person is self-employed, they’re generally not eligible for worker’s compensation, unemployment, the required minimum wage, overtime wages, federal protections against workplace discrimination and retaliation, or any of the other benefits they would be entitled to if they were employees.

3. Never let a salon owner tell you this classification is “better for you because you won’t have to pay taxes.”

Trust me, you will have to report your income and pay your taxes. In reality, this situation only benefits the salon owner, because they get to control you like an employee and skip out on worker’s compensation insurance, employment tax, wage obligations, and the other responsibilities and liabilities that come in exchange for that degree of control.

4. Misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a crime.

State and federal governments take tax evasion, wage theft, and labor abuses pretty damn seriously. They take them so seriously they team up and perform joint investigations. Whichever agency is initially alerted (whether it’s the IRS, the DOL, or your state labor board) will alert the two others. They will join forces in what’s called a “three pronged investigation.” (I call it the Hell Trifecta.)

Unless you are truly a freelance professional, following the money wherever it may be and setting your own terms working under your own brand, you are likely not an independent contractor, and no salon owner will be able to twist the truth enough to justify tax evasion and labor abuse with the IRS.

The only way this pervasive abuse stops is if we stop allowing it to happen in the first place.

If your employer has been misclassifying you, read this post to learn how to approach them respectfully about correcting their practices before it’s too late.

Take the Courses

I’m introducing a full online course! Part 1: Foundations, covers employment law (worker classification, common exploitation tactics, and everything your school didn’t teach you about working in the beauty industry). In Part 2: Contracts, you’ll learn all about employment contracts and lease agreements, including how to identify illegal and abusive terms, negotiate, and heed serious red flags. Bundle both classes together and save!

Recommended Reading

Recommended Tools

The Salon Employee Suitcase. The Salon Employee Suitcase contains
everything you need to get acquainted with your rights as an employee and protect your wages, so check it out.

MSO Toolkit

The Microsalon Owner’s Complete Business Toolkit is our biggest, baddest download to date, containing an absurd amount of information and a valuable pricing spreadsheet for self-employed salon professionals.

A quick message to the rabid keyboard warrior salon owners: before commenting here (or anywhere on this site), do yourself the tremendous favor of researching me and what I write before you decide to make a fool of yourself. I’ve written over 300 articles, many in defense of salon owners. I don’t play favorites here. I call bullshit like I see it.

If you don’t like the laws, take it up with your congressman. I didn’t write them, but I expect you to obey them like every other business owner in the country.

FAQ for Salon & Spa Owners

“I’m a salon owner and a booth renter is causing serious problems in the salon. Can I terminate her contract before the renewal term?”

If there is a clause in the rental agreement that states that the owner can terminate the contract at any time, yes you likely can. If not, you must abide by your state’s commercial landlord/tenant laws, if any exist. To save yourself the aggravation in the future, consider having your attorney write termination provisions into your future rental contracts.

“My employee brought her clients, can she take them with her?”

It depends on whether or not the employee signed a valid non-solicitation agreement (not to be confused with a non-compete agreement).

You don’t want employees coming into your business and taking clients from you. Treat your professionals as you expect to be treated and do not take from them what isn’t yours to take.

“Help! My employees are copying my client’s contact information for their own records! What can I do?!”

If you had them sign non-solicitation agreements, you can likely cease the activity immediately and threaten termination and/or legal action. If you didn’t have them sign anything, there’s likely not much you can do about it, but you should damn well try.

“I run a booth rental salon, do I need to provide keys and security codes to each renter?”

The IRS no longer makes keyholding a requirement. Whether or not you are legally required to do so depends on your state’s commercial landlord/tenant laws. Consider electronic deadbolts. Give your renters passkeys for 24/7 business access. Charge extra for it.

“What is the best employment and compensation arrangement?”

Here is an article I wrote regarding compensation methods and which I believe is the best.

FAQ for Booth Renters

“Can the salon owner fire me?”

You’re not an employee, so no. A landlord can never really “fire” you. (That’s the wrong word.) They can, however, terminate your lease. Read your contract carefully to find out if there are any clauses that allow them to terminate without notice and check your state’s commercial landlord/tenant laws.

“The salon owner sold the business and the new owner is trying to raise my rent. Can they do that?”

Probably not. Generally, they have to abide by the original lease agreement or renegotiate it with you.

“Can the salon owner tell me what products to use or force me to go through their training program?”

No. You are your own business owner. You choose the products, you choose the services, you set the prices. You are not required to go through any training or adhere to any rules the owner sets forth.

“Can the salon own force me to participate in promotional events or take coupons?”

No. You can participate if you want to, but requiring you to would likely constitute an inappropriate degree of control.

“Do I have to put the salon name on my business cards?”

No, and you shouldn’t. Keep your business separate from the establishment you’re leasing from. You are your own business.


You can say you’re “located inside of [insert salon name here]” if you’d like, but don’t use their logo.

“My boss has me pay a percentage of my daily service sales as rent. If I make under a certain amount, my contract says I have to pay a set amount. Is that legal or fair?”

That depends. As of the updating of this article (December 6th, 2022), I cannot find any laws to dictate otherwise.

As a rule, your rent should not be variable since the value of the space doesn’t change from week to week. I will say this though: if you’re new talent just out of school or you’re getting back in the game after a long time out, it may be beneficial for you to start out on profit-share in lieu of fixed rent during the time you’re building.

Keep in mind that you are still required to provide your own products, manage your own books, and promote yourself, so your rent should reflect that (you should be paying out 15-20%).

A lot of owners won’t offer this opportunity to stylists because it is hard to track and puts them at a financial disadvantage, but some kindhearted, generous owners do offer it. If you’re an established pro and the owner wants 40 or 50% of your commission as booth rental–no. Get out of there.

Owners, in five out of six IRS revenue rulings, salon landlords who took a percentage of gross sales in lieu of rent were determined to be employers; not landlords. If you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you have to pay back wages, back taxes, and penalties, avoid the practice and take a flat rental amount.

“Can I claim my booth rental as a business expense on my taxes?”

Yes. It is a business expense.

“Do I have to carry my own salon insurance?”

Technically, yes. Salons usually provide general liability and property insurance while the booth renter is asked to provide their own professional liability. Many salon owners will provide professional liability insurance as a courtesy, however. Check with your salon owner to make sure that you are covered. If not, shop around for a plan. Quickly.

“The owner wants me to use her receptionist and have my clients pay at the front desk. She is then going to write me a check for the full amount. Is this legal?”

DO NOT. This puts the salon landlord in an extremely legally perilous position. Your clients pay you. They book appointments with you. Do not hand your money over to anyone else for any reason. You are a self-employed business owner. Keep your business separate from the salon owner’s.

FAQ for Employees

“Can I notify my clients that I’m moving to a new salon?”

That depends on several factors. Are the clients yours? Were there any stipulations in your employment contract that say you can’t market to the clients?

In order for a client to be “yours” you have to have brought them with you to the establishment from your school or prior place of employment. Clients you gain through referrals from these clients fall into this category as well. These are clients you obtained through your own networking and advertising, so they belong to you and you should have their information kept in a safe place at home. Those clients who are loyal to you are going to want to know where you’ve gone.

I’ve seen it happen a thousand times when a stylist leaves and doesn’t notify their clients. You know who else doesn’t notify their clients? The owner. Generally, your appointments will get shifted to whoever is available and the client will only discover that you’re gone when they show up for their appointment. In almost all cases, the owner will not divulge any information on where you’ve relocated to in an effort to retain those clients (definitely a bad move on their part because the clients do not appreciate it). Your clients are your paycheck. You work hard to build that book so keep it together and protect it.

Now, if the clients are people that you’ve gained at the salon, there is a whole different set of rules. Say the client walks in off the street or calls because she saw an ad in the paper. This client was obtained through the owner’s networking and advertising tactics and this client does not belong to you.

It doesn’t matter if the client has been seeing you for five months or fifteen years. If they initially came to the salon because of the owner’s marketing, their contact information belong to the business–not you. It is unlawful and incredibly unethical to try and lure these clients away from the salon and yes, your ex-employer can take legal action against you for it (as they should).

“I was fired from a commission salon. Can I get unemployment?”

Whether or not you’re eligible is debatable and situation-specific. Whatever you do, do not ask me about it. Ever.

“Can my boss require me to provide my own product?”

As an employee, providing product is their responsibility. If there are products you prefer to use, you will have to get permission from your boss and pay for it out of your own pocket. (A lot of owners will accommodate you however, if you have a preferred product that you absolutely can’t work without. Many of them understand. All of us have a few of our favorites.) Most states have laws in place to protect employees from unlawful paycheck deductions, like head fees, service charges, or product fees.

FAQ for Independent Contractors

“Can the owner make me stay if I have no clients?”

No. You are an independent contractor. You are not required to do anything other than the services you’ve been contracted to perform.

“Can the salon owner make me sign a non-compete agreement, making me exclusive to that establishment?”

As an independent contractor, you can work at every salon and spa in town if you want and freelance on the side. You are not obligated to any of them.

“Am I required to perform work I’m not getting paid for? (Like answering phones, cleaning, and folding towels?”

Independent contractors perform services. That is it. It is courteous to pick up after yourself and leave the treatment area in the same condition you found it, but outside of that, those jobs are the responsibility of the business owner.

“Am I required to supply my own product and equipment?”

If you prefer to supply your own product and equipment, you can, but it will be at your own expense. A business owner is not required to cater to your preferences. However, you can (and should) charge them for the product expenses.

“The owner handed me her contract. I’ve read it and I absolutely can’t work under her terms. Can I back out without a penalty?”

Yes, as long as you haven’t signed the agreement.

General FAQ

“The owner wants me to sign a non-compete contract. The contract states that I will not work at any other spa while working at her business. The contract also says that I can not work in the same town or market to the spa’s clients. It also says that any clients I bring to the spa become the property of the spa and that I can’t take them with me if I choose to move on. Can they really enforce this?”

Generally they can’t because most states consider non-competes that restrict employees from working in the same town to be unconstitutional, but in no case should you ever sign a contract like that. Ever. Never sign anything that could impair your ability to work. Here’s an article on non-compete agreements.

“My boss doesn’t do payroll. They pay cash out at the end of every day or week. Is that legal?”

It’s shady. If they’re not doing payroll and they’re paying you cash, they’re not claiming you as an employee. Your taxes aren’t getting paid and they’re putting you in a bad situation. In addition, many states have laws regarding how payroll is handled and reported to the employees of a particular establishment.

Let’s talk!

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, or a unique situation that you’d like to discuss, email me to make a consulting appointment!


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A 55-page PDF with everything you need to understand why certain policies may be required, who should and shouldn’t implement them, and when and how to introduce them in your salon.


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755 Responses

  1. Can a salon owner require the booth renters to pay a portion of the salon’s insurance premiums separate from the booth rental fee?

    1. No. You are a business owner. You choose what professional liability insurance policy you want and pay the price you choose. They cannot force you to pay for a policy they select.

      1. Sorry to the person who’s post I’m commenting on, this is the only way I could figure out how to ask a question.
        Tina, hi! ^_^
        I am an esthetician and I’m now hired as an independent contractor at a local day spa with a couple locations. All of the service providers (massage therapists, nail techs, and estheticians) in the company are independent contractors. This article has been so helpful but I’m still very confused because I am new to the whole independent contractor concept. I don’t know about the others but the estheticians there only make 25% commission starting out and can only get up to 35%. Are we being taken advantage of? Also can they legally tell us how to dress (ie. black scrubs) and that we can’t have piercings, tattoos, and different/abnormal hair colors? They check in and check out our clients and they book appointments. They have told us that we will be on the “top of the list” to receive appointments that aren’t requested to anyone in particular by basically getting points from “good behavior” (ie. helping with laundry, helping clean, being early, staying late, not leaving if we don’t have clients and staying throughout our scheduled times while doing those things, coming in when they need extra hands) Can they legally do this? Also they have us put our desired hours in so they can have our books open for those times. Can they tell us we have to stay the entire time? Originally I thought we could only work a certain number of hours but since they informed me that wasn’t the case I now put open to close for all the days that I’m there (which is 5 to 6 days a week) Can they penalize me for not staying the whole time with no clients in the books or when I’m don’t with the only clients I have for the day? Finally, I don’t want to overstep my boundaries and I love this job so at what point can they fire me?

        1. Hi Kristina! You have to be classified as an employee for an employer to make those demands of you. Currently, you’re being misclassified. Technically, they can fire you at any time for any reason (or no reason at all) since all states (except for Wyoming for some reason) are at-will employment states. I recommend approaching them about this diplomatically, but be prepared to be terminated if you do.

          1. Unfortunately I was terminated for even asking questions. Sadly they had been “training me” without pay for two months while I waited for them to open and I had turned down other opportunities for them too. Lesson learned. I wish I could do something, though I don’t really know what, because there are a lot of people being taken advantage of by this company.

          2. Well, you certainly could file a labor complaint with your state labor authority (and I recommend that you do). Training without pay is a huge violation of federal labor law, and one they’d likely see massive penalties for on both a state and federal level.

          3. Okay so what do you do if there is a breach of contract on the owners part? I work at a salon that is “booth rental” in reality it’s commission based and the salon owner isn’t matching taxes. Yet feels she is our boss. This week we were told she was decreasing our commission because she was losing money. We argued that it was a breach of contract, she wasn’t responsible for an hourly rate during dead hours, or taxes, and that this wasn’t even legal booth rent. She refuses to match taxes or to let us have a flat booth rental rate. And told all of us to accept her offer or leave and that the changes would be made on our next paycheck and that we needed to sign another contract. I’m aware I should run. But this is the second salon owner that I’ve worked under who operated in this way(the first changed the contract four times within a year of me working there). And I have also had numerous interviews with salon owners in town and they all seem to operate in the same “booth rental” yet commission based manner. What can I do?

          4. Yikes. First, you should file an SS-8 with the IRS. You’ve been misclassified, so you’re due back taxes, unpaid wages, and unpaid overtime. You definitely need to run, and if I were you, the first place I’d run to is a corporate salon (people knock them, but if you’re ambitious and want benefits, they offer advancement opportunities and health/dental, and of course, they actually compensate legally). Your alternate option is to go the pricier route–studio rental. Unless you’re in a super small town, I’m willing to bet you have a studio rental complex near you. The major chains (like Sola Salon Studios) know their role. They won’t interfere with your business. They will lease you the building and collect your rent–that’s it. However, if I were you, I’d be heading out ASAP.

          5. Wyoming is an at-will state. We can fire for any reason here as long as it’s not discriminatory.

          6. Awesome! Thanks so much! I’ll update the post to reflect that. (I always thought that was super bizarre.)

      2. When paying both rent in a barber shop;if you decide to take a vacation, do you have to still pay your booth rent while away?

  2. Hi, I have a question regarding the salon I work at. When I started a few months ago, I filled out a W9, and 1099. I make a percentage of the sales I bring in. Taxes are not taken out of my check and Im paid biweekly. The salon owner is very in control of us, we have a long list of duties for closing, lots of cleaning, and I also have to adhere to a schedule. I work all the hours the salon is open, and I have to adhere to the changes the owner makes in the hours. I also am required to stay if I am finished with all my appoinments midday, and the salon closes at 9. This has happened to me several times, where I was done hours before the salon closing. We generally do not get walk ins. I had to wait hours and hours for the owner to relieve me, and most of the time I had to stay not only until the salon was closed, but the end of day clean up list was completed. I also have to be at work 30 min before the salon is open even if my first client is hours later. Is this completely wrong? If so, how should I approach this?

    1. So, at the salon I work at, we get paid commission only (60%). We have set hours, rules, dress code and the owner is not taking our taxes out…we will be getting. A 1099. Just trying to clarify, is this legal?

      1. Hi Tina,
        Here is my situation, I am a 1099. The owner pays me 48% commission . I have set hours, I buy my own color, pay for all my taxes and was pretty much forced to sign a noncompete that states I cannot work within 3 miles for a year and a half..
        I know I am being cheated and want to leave qnd go work at a chair rental salon but afraid of being sued.
        so you think I would have a chance to win this case in court?

        1. I’m not a lawyer or a judge, nor do I know your contract terms. You will need to speak with an attorney about your specific situation.

  3. I’m paying Booth Rent in Al at a Salon with another business attached to it. The guy I Rent from owns that business my question is his other businesses is interfering with my clients being able to see the Salon or to even be able to access and park when I say something to him her doesn’t care can he do that since its his property ?

    1. He’s only hurting himself by restricting your ability to do business, since if you aren’t making money he may lose you as a tenant. Unfortunately, without more information I really can’t give you an answer on this. I need more specifics. How is his business interfering? Is this a recent development or something you were aware of when you signed the lease?

  4. I have a couple questions. My friend works for a salon and they had her fill out a W-4, so the salon takes out her taxes which I don’t understand because she’s technically an independent contractor. She is 100% commission so she does not get paid an hourly wage by the salon, and her commission is only between 30-40%. The owner of the salon is a very young girl in her early 20’s, and she makes the stylists and nail technicians wait in the salon for their whole shift while not getting paid to wait…even if they only have one client for the entire day. She also makes them do chores and clean up tasks which they don’t get paid to do either. Is the salon owner wrong in making her stylists/technicians do all of this without payment?? And is it uncommon for independent contractors to have a W4 instead of a 1099?? My friend is really upset with her salon job right now because many days, she’s forced to sit there and wait the whole day when she only has one client at the end of the night. And now the owner is trying to give the stylists cleaning jobs which they aren’t getting paid to do. What can my friend do here? Does she have rights that she’s not aware of?? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank You 🙂

    1. What you have there is a typical case of an inexperienced, underqualified owner.

      If she’s an independent contractor, she does not have to adhere to a schedule. She also is technically making 15-20%, not 30-40%, since 15% of her earnings technically belong to the IRS for being “self-employed.”

      If she is being expected to work, she needs to be getting paid. Period. Here are some links to articles that can help her:

    2. Wow, thank you so much for all of your help and the prompt response, that was really awesome. I have one more question. My friend works in Chicago. Are the laws and employee rights any different here than in other states? Or is this a law/rule that extends nationwide no matter the state? Again, thanks so much for your help it’s greatly appreciated.

  5. Out of curiosity, I did a quick check of the Illinois statutes. Illinois actually takes misclassification really seriously and is the first state to draft laws specific to misclassification (the Illinois Employee Classification Act).

    Basically, that owner picked a bad state to pull that shit in.

    1. Hi Tina, I am the friend that he’s talking about. I’ve decided that I want to bring up the fact that I am only paid commission and I am being asked to do extra things, not getting paid for them, (laundry, taking out the trash, answering phones, shampooing clients that aren’t mine, cleaning the bathrooms while I am not with clients) I brought it up to the assistant manager, and he said, “Well, everyone had jobs, and everyone has to do them.” I am not sure how to phrase this to them and I know I’m being taken advantage of. My checks are for commission only, nothing else. Any advice in how to bring this up to the owner?
      Thank you!

    2. I would suggest arranging for a private meeting with the owner and manager and showing them the content found on every link here:

      Each of those links clearly explains how the independent contractor is to be treated and used. Those are direct links to the IRS website. Those laws apply to every state in the US, so don’t let them try to convince you that Illinois doesn’t have to follow them. You are clearly being misclassified. They need to rectify that immediately and reimburse you for their portion of your tax responsibility. If they refuse to do so, inform them that you will be filing an SS-8 and having the IRS determine what is fair. The SS-8 will initiate an investigation into their business practices–an audit. They don’t want that. In addition, you could contact your local labor board and bring it up with them as well, mentioning that you are aware of the Illinois Employee Classification Act and you feel you were misclassified by the owner in an attempt for that owner to evade taxes.

      Remember these direct quotes from the IRS website when you bring it up:
      “A worker is an employee when the business has the right to direct and control the worker.”
      “An employee is generally guaranteed a regular wage amount for an hourly, weekly, or other period of time. This usually indicates that a worker is an employee, even when the wage or salary is supplemented by a commission. An independent contractor is usually paid by a flat fee for the job.”
      “If you hire a worker with the expectation that the relationship will continue indefinitely, rather than for a specific project or period, this is generally considered evidence that the intent was to create an employer-employee relationship.”
      “If a worker provides services that are a key aspect of the business, it is more likely that the business will have the right to direct and control his or her activities. For example, if a law firm hires an attorney, it is likely that it will present the attorney’s work as its own and would have the right to control or direct that work. This would indicate an employer-employee relationship.” (In your case, the salon would definitely be presenting your work as its own. You are clearly an employee because you are expected to be there on THEIR schedule, performing THEIR services at THEIR pricing. An independent contractor generally performs a sole function and that is it. No salon bitchwork. You don’t hire a plumber to fix your sink and then ask him to mop your floors and mow your lawn before he leaves without compensation. It isn’t acceptable in any industry, so it certainly isn’t acceptable in ours.)

    3. Hi Tina, I followed your advice. Talked to the owner, she brushed it off and hasn’t done anything to change, it the mean time I’m experiencing hostility from her manager because I’ve been questioning things.
      So I’ve begun looking for a new job. My question is about the handbook she had me sign in the beginning of my working there. Is says I cannot work within a 10 mile radius of the salon. I’ve for a salon about 2 from there that will hire me. Can she come after me for this? I’m hearing that this is not the case. Just curious of your thoughts on this

    4. If she had you classified as an independent contractor (1099), then nothing she had you sign restricting your ability to work is valid. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on unless you are going to use that paper in court to incriminate her for improperly classifying you. In no state, under no circumstances, can an owner require an independent contractor to sign a non-compete agreement (that portion of your handbook that says you can’t work in a 10 mile radius). Even if you were an employee, those terms are too broad. No judge would enforce that. Read these articles for more information. If I were you, I’d invite her to sue. Tell her to go right ahead and tell a judge that she had an independent contractor sign an “employee handbook” that included a non-compete agreement with an absolutely unreasonable 10 mile radius…and see what he says about it, lol.

      Overview of Non-Compete Agreements:

      “Can I make my Independent Contractors sign a Non-Compete Agreement?”:

    5. If you’re W4, then you’re not 1099. You aren’t an independent contractor, you’re an employee. Because she is taking out and contributing to your taxes, she can put you on a schedule and require you to do tasks you aren’t being compensated for (as long as her salon makes less than 500k a year…if it makes above that then she’s expected to adhere to the FLSA). For some reason, I thought you were 1099. (I think I misread one of the posts up there and have been under the assumption that she told you that you were an employee but was not taking out taxes on you.) Unfortunately, as long as she’s taking out taxes and paying her portion of them, you’re an employee.

    6. Yes. Ok, sorry about the miscommunication. This all makes sense. Wondering your thoughts.. This salon is just not for me, unfair, under paid, and passive aggressive behavior is not what I’m going to stick around for. Everything that they promised would happen, 6 months ago, when I started, did not (advertising for me, in turn only giving 30% commission. Also, promising to give me all the walk-ins 1st, instead the assistant manager is taking them for himself because he’s not a busy stylist). I’ve decided to put in my 2 weeks this Friday, to not leave her uncovered through the holiday, letting her know I’ll be working my other job, not doing hair instead. I know some salons do not let you finish your 2 weeks, do you think it’s best to do this anyway? I want to take the high road and end things as professionally as possible, even though they are not. Is giving a notice necessary? I may work in a salon 2 miles away in the future, so in the 10 mile radius the handbook said I could not, I won’t take any clients from the salon. Is this the most peaceful way to go? I appreciate any advice. Thank you!

    7. The majority of salons don’t let you finish after you provide notice, but do so anyways as a courtesy. The ten mile radius is too broad for a non-compete and is unenforceable. The most a judge will enforce is three miles and in our industry even that is unlikely. I think you’re definitely doing the right thing by providing notice, so go right ahead. Try to keep things as peaceful as possible. It’s always the best route to take.

      1. If you are an employee (W4) and *only* make commission for your treatments, not an hourly wage, are you required to be at salon or spa in between or when you do not have clients?
        Also, in this same employment condition, can the salon require you to provide your own insurance? Thanks in advance!

        1. This post will answer your question about prevailing wage compliance.

          Salon owners generally can require professionals to carry their own professional liability insurance policies, and in our industry it’s typical. Unless there’s an applicable state regulation, it’s usually permissible. (I recommend carrying your own policy as a general rule. They run about $300 a year–well worth the cost should you ever require it. I personally would never trust a salon owner to ensure coverage. Plus, the cost is tax-deductible.)

          1. Hi! This may be a stupid question..but can I restrict a booth renter from bringing her kids to work or serving alcohol to her clients or are those things her decision?

          2. Hi Grace! That’s not a stupid question at all. Depending on the laws in your state/county, serving alcohol without an appropriate license may be illegal. In any case, as the landlord, you can set guidelines for use of the space. For example, you can restrict children and alcohol/drug/tobacco use. Both present serious risks and liability concerns. Particularly when you have an open-air salon (where the booths are all in the same open space), you have other tenants to think about too. It’s discourteous of her to bring kids and serve alcohol in a co-working space like that.

            You should speak to your attorney about an immediate lease revision. For examples of how similar businesses implement guidelines like this, look to other industries where co-working spaces are common (tech and software facilities, in particular). So long as the guidelines don’t impede upon or her ability to conduct business or exert control over how she conducts business (with regards to service pricing, service protocols, dictating her hours, requiring her to use a particular product line, requiring training, and/or controlling her output), they’re perfectly acceptable.

  6. Hi Tina,

    I was reading your blog and responses and I have to say I fit this unfortunate category of “independent contractor vs employee. Here is my story:

    I started working in a private salon that took on new management. This new owner was also a cordial friend. She said to me upon hire that I will get a 70% comm. I could make my own schedule and her only rule is to not steal from her. She also wanted me and others to cater to walk in clientele, which wasn’t very many. Anyway, after working there for some time, like a couple of months, I noticed that she was changing. Meaning her demeanor. When I wasnt busy, I would read, text, play games on my tablet, or step outside for a few. It seems as though everyone had their own doing too. But for some reason she came at me as if as though I was doing something wrong. She asked to speak with me and went on to say that she didn’t like the things I was doing, called me lazy, unprofessional, with lack if capabilities. Now being that I used to work in a corporate salon, as a manager, I new then she was wrong for how she approached me.

    Again I am a independent contractor, I pay for my own supplies, and I have to do a 1099 form for my taxes. I told her that she does not own me, she is not my boss, cant tell me when I can and cannot do something. Needless to say, I had 3 arguments with her. She didnt like when I said that she needed to do more research on owning a salon business. It was like she did not want me there. I always stayed to myself, I mingled when needed, never gossip with anyone, just mostly quiet and observant. Last night she wanted to talk about other issues and my phone. She also said I came to work late a fews, I dont tell her whats going on when I have to leave, and I “still” be on my phone too much.

    I have clients calling and texting me for appts. So I have to have it handy, but not while a client is sitting in my chair. Anyway, when I called her to say that I didnt want to discuss what she wanted to talk about, she got angry, said some things, I politely ignored, said ok whatever and bye. She text me and said and I quote, “come get your belongings, I’m tired of your mouth and attitude. Your services are no longer wanted or needed in my salon”. I was furious, all because she couldnt contol me? Its her salon, so I got my stuff and very professionally said nothing while she went on to tell her friends that she does not have time for adult sitting, and tired of games……

    She has temporarily ruined what i tried to build. Can she do that? Is it fair to be treated like this as an independent contractor. Now that I know the difference I know what look for. Maybe i should copy the “law” and mail it to her. Is 70% justifiable for minimum wage, since she was treating me like an employee? Why do owners think they could do this to people?

    1. Oh my god. I just wrote this huge reply to you and Google signed me out, didn’t post it, and now I have to type it again, lol. So here goes:

      Unfortunately, she can fire you. It isn’t fair that you were let go because she tried to overstep her bounds and you wouldn’t allow it, but because no violation was committed there isn’t anything you can do about it. It sounds like you worked your own schedule and performed your services your way. In that sense, she followed the rules. You kept her from breaking them. Honestly, she should be grateful for that.

      70% is what all IC’s should be asking for, especially if you’re providing your own supplies. In my opinion, supplies and product are “cost of doing business” expenses and should be covered by the owner since they are required for doing the services they’re contracting you for, but this is a gray area and the law is far too open for interpretation here for my liking.

      Owners think they can do this to people because they usually don’t know any better. Those that do know better think that they won’t get caught. I can’t tell you how many owners have written to me and said, “I had NO idea this was illegal! This is how things have always been done!” Just because things have “always been done” this way does not mean that it is legal. I tell every owner that I communicate with, “If it feels like you’re benefiting from an arrangement to the point that you’re almost screwing over your staff, chances are that it isn’t legal.” A lot of these owners have told me that they’ve been given bad advice from attorneys and accountants. (I myself had an attorney give me bad information. When I provided him with the links to specific statutes that contradicted his advice, he was floored.) Laws change ALL. THE. TIME. The federal government is not going to email every US citizen to update them on the changes, so owners have to be responsible for doing their own research and ensuring they’re in compliance. It takes me between 5 and 20 minutes to find the information I need (or contact info for someone who can give me that information). They have no excuse not to do their own research. Just because you’re ignorant of the law does not mean that you can violate it at will.

  7. Hi I own a salon and have a stylist who would like to come booth rent at my salon. She signed a contract at her old salon but is very unhappy there. They keep raising the rent and changing how many days she can work. Can she get out of this contract and leave? When they changed the days on which she could work they made a new contract. Unfortunately she signed that one too. What can she do to leave this salon?

    1. She can get out of the contract and leave any time she likes. All she has to do is submit it in writing 30 days in advance, letting them know that she will be leaving. Without seeing the contract terms, I don’t know what penalties (if any) they require for an early lease termination, but as long as she lets them know in writing that she’s going elsewhere, she should be fine. They certainly can’t expect her to continue renting with them if they keep raising the rent and changing the days she can work. I’m sure they had to see it coming.

  8. Tina, just have to say I’m floored by some of this, although its mostly stuff I already knew. I could never see the benefit of being an IC until I read your article, and it makes me want to go that route when I leave my current place of work. I hate being an employee and getting screwed over all the time.
    Interesting tidbit: I was reading your little profile blurb on the side and it was like you had written mine. I do tabletop and video game roleplaying, I also tend to scare people with my vocabulary, love to read, and I am also an INTJ. The only difference is that I’m not a people stylist, I’m a dog groomer. All the same rules still apply though. 🙂 I’ve tried following the links to your blog but they all tell me they couldn’t find it. Is it temporarily down or did it change?

    1. Hi fellow nerd person! The links aren’t down, I’m just an idiot. While writing a lot of the content, I linked to several other posts…then, I changed the URL from the blogger URL to my URL and then all the links to the content changed. I’ve been going through some of them to find the bad links that remain, but it’s been quite a process.

      1. Hi Tina,
        The spa owner where I work doubled our rent with 14 days notice. The original deal was we spilt 50/50until we hit a 500 cap now it’s 50/50 until we hit 1000 cap or 50/50 straight up with priority booking. We also pay a portion of advertising and supply our own products. When I spoke out against this she told me I’m lucky she didn’t fire me for “pissing her off”. I’m an independent contractor. Is any of this legal?

        1. Yikes. So, she sounds like an asshole, first of all. I’d tell her straight to her face that as a renter, I am a PAYING CUSTOMER of hers and if she wants to continue collecting my rent, she’ll stay in her lane and behave appropriately.

          However, your arrangement isn’t proper. The 50/50 split is legally extremely perilous for her (in 5 out of 6 IRS revenue rulings, the IRS found that the landlord who collected a percentage instead of a flat rental rate was actually an employer, since the collection of a portion of revenue–particularly such a high portion–constituted an inappropriate degree of control).

          You should NOT be paying a portion of advertising.

          This deal SUCKS for you because you’re paying 50%, covering your own costs, and you have to pay 15.3% of your income to the IRS for self-employment taxes. Plus you have to deal with her bullshit? Yeah, you’d be better off financially and professionally pretty much anywhere else. It’s legal for her to arbitrarily raise rent as long as she provides notice, but I wouldn’t put up with her for another minute if I were you. I’d be shocked if you were making enough money to live on once your taxes and supplies were accounted for.

  9. Thanks! I found them on my own and felt like a huge idiot when I realized this article was already ON your blog, lol. Its unreal reading some of these. Dog groomers need to band together with you guys on this too. We face exactly the same issues and abuses by employers. I had a question for you too, though I may just send an e-mail to you later because It might end up being too long for a little comment. Thanks for the response here!

  10. I live in fl. I was let go from job. can I use name of place where I was at in ad , to let people know where I am now.

    1. Honestly, I don’t know that any laws exist on the subject but I wouldn’t do it. Some salons have their names copyrighted and trademarked (the last one I managed did), so it’s generally not a good idea. It’s basically inviting litigation.

  11. I own a salon and my rent is going up in January. I have 2 booth renters who’s contracts are month-to-month. What is a proper/easy way to tell them that their rent is going from $85/week to $100/week without causing a riff?

    1. I think regardless of the way you tell them, there’s going to be some degree of backlash. Their weekly rent is extremely reasonable, even at $100 a week. They’d have a hard time finding that kind of deal anywhere else. I would just explain to them that operating the salon is costly and that periodically rent has to be raised to make up for those costs. If you don’t raise the rent, the rent on the building doesn’t get paid, and they will no longer have a place to work. Whatever you say, do it face to face with them and make sure they know that you aren’t trying to force them out or make their lives difficult. You’re just trying to cover your own expenses. $100 a week is really an outstanding deal.

      1. Sorry Tina, I couldn’t figure out how to post a question so I had to reply to an answer you gave.
        I rent part time in a salon for $100 a week. I’ve only been at this location for 2 1/2 months and the owner announced that my rent will increase by $25 more per week. She didn’t give me a 30 day notice and I thought the rent could not be increased by more than 10%. I’m in Ca.

        1. Hi Laura! You’re on a week-to-week common law lease agreement (since you pay weekly), if you don’t have a written lease that specifies otherwise. Basically, every time you pay your landlord, your agreement renews automatically. This means that she’s only required to give you a week’s notice–not 30 days. I’ve not heard that commercial rent increases are capped by law in California, but that might be a city-specific law. (There are similar laws in major cities.)

  12. I have been employed at a salon for the past 3 years, I have a class 1 license and have eleven years experience. And was hired 3 years ago at $8.00 an hour, and was told every 6 months we have a review and will discuss a pay increase. Well I have asked time and again for a raise and was always told that she will not give me a raise unless I attend a work shop every few months to learn the newest trends. So one of my
    Questions is can she legally not give me a raise unless I attend work shops which I have to pay for myself?? Secondly, when I started I never received a w2 to fill out but started receiving checks which said I was claiming 0 dependents and since its bi weekly alot of taxes were being taken. I have two children so, I have always claimed 2 dependents. I called her and asked how I was receiving checks without signing a w2 and her response was ” oh I filled it out for you” I said how could you do that without my approval or social security number?” She said she had my social from my job application I filled out and signed it for me.. I told her I thought that was illegal and she quickly said its already done why does it matter I told her to get me another form so I can change the claim from o to 2 and she said I can’t claim 2 even though I have children, because the government will say I owe them money.. whenI aasked the other employees about their w2 forms I was made.aware that the owner had never given them one to fill out either,
    Apparently she filed all theirs as well. Is this legal?? She has also been taking money out of our pay checks without our knowledge or approval, we only know because atthe bottom of the checks it says miscellaneous $ so when we asked her what this means her reply was it’s a penalty she charges us if we forget to log a credit card tip in the credit card machine, which doesn’t effect anny cash because we log it in the register. Or if the draw is short she takes it out of our check. But her daughter is our manager and doesn’t ring alot of clients in, she just pockets the money and doesn’t do a draw count after her shift or at the start of a new shift so how can they take the money from my check without proof that it wasn’t already short before my shift??? Please help me

    1. Are you sure you aren’t mistaking a W-2 for a W-4? You don’t fill out W2’s, you receive them at the end of the year so you can file your taxes. You’re supposed to fill out the W-4.

      The owner filling out that W-4 for you is definitely illegal. A W-4 constitutes legal instructions from employee to employer regarding the number of exemptions and amount of deductions the employer should implement for payroll withholding. An employer cannot decide this on behalf of an employee and cannot take action on an employee’s pay without authorization. Therefore, employees must, at minimum, sign their W-4 forms themselves. By filling out this form for you, she lied on your behalf the the IRS about your number of dependents which affected your withholding.

      As far as the withholding, read this:

    2. Thank you, I knew it was illegal but just needed verification. I also have one more question, sherecently switched to a new payroll company and on our new check stubs it says the amount of credit card and cash tips we claim bi weekly and the cash tips we claim are now being deducted from our checks. The checks we usto receive did not show that, so I was always under the assumption that we get taxed on our cash tips? not that they were being deducted from my check. Is that right? I tried looking up the laws of claiming cash tips and couldn’t find what I was looking for. Thanks again

    3. You should be getting taxed on your tips if the owner is including them on your paycheck. That means that the taxes should be getting deducted, not the tips themselves. If your tips are missing, that is theft, lol. The way you worded it makes it seem as if the cash tips are missing altogether. If you’re taking the cash from the clients, are you giving it to her to include in the check or are you guys just allowed to pocket it and report it whenever at your own discretion?

  13. Hi! I can’t thank you enough for being so educated in the business and being able to provide info for me. Here is my situation: I am a booth renter in southern california (la county) I was told by the owner’s husband to get out, pack all of my belongings and leave in 1 hour!! I had a feeling this would happen because his wife (the owner) and I recently ended our personal friendship and she is crazy and “fires” renters all the time. I found your website a few weeks ago and saw that I need a 30 day written notice to evict me based on the landlord tenant law for ca and there is no contract. I informed the husband of this law and he didn’t care. i then called the police and when they arrived they did agree it was not legal but since it was a civil matter, not criminal, they couldn’t do anything about it and I was forced to leave. I want to sue the owner, I am without a place to work, I have clients scheduled the next few months and am trying to find a new place to rent, but don’t want to rush and get a station just anywhere, because i don not like to move around. The owner also has all of her commission stylists sign a 1099 to avoid paying taxes, but they are forced to do things employees are supposed to be doing. What should i do? Sue? What type of attorney should I look for? I am so frustrated. 🙁

    1. You have an excellent case and you really do need to file as soon as possible in civil court. Considering the circumstances, you could also potentially seek compensation for the damage done to your business.

      First thing: Find an attorney that specializes in real estate law, specifically wrongful eviction lawsuits. Explain the situation to them. What she did harmed your business significantly. Her wrongful eviction upended your business, which caused you distress and caused your clients significant inconvenience. What she did was unacceptable. Regardless of whether the lease was spoken or written, she is expected to adhere to the landlord/tenant laws. Period.

      Secondly, you need to report her to your local labor board and to your local IRS office. Explain to them that she is purposefully misclassifying employees as contractors for her own benefit. You may have to follow up on this to ensure that they’re following up.

  14. Hi there!
    I’m writing to you because I’m a little confused now as to what my title is at the salon I’m at, and what I should do to make it right.
    I was hired on as a commission employee last May. I get 50% commission. However, I have to pay for and provide all of my own color, supplies, styling products, hot tools, etc.
    The owner does not supply any retail products, yet she won’t let me retail my own products. If my clients want to purchase something that I’ve used on them (mind you, it’s a product I’ve purchased myself to use), I’m supposed to tell her so she can go buy it, then sell it to my client.
    I get paid cash at the end of the day, and don’t receive a normal taxed paycheck like a normal commission employee should. I only have to go in when I have clients, but I do have the option to stay when I don’t have my own clients schedule and get walk ins. Note, I’ve never actually done a walk in client because we rarely get any.
    I don’t know if I’m actually a commission employee, since I can pretty much make up my own hours within the salon hours of the day, and pay for my own products. But then she’s still taking half of everything I make.
    Maybe I’m just a little naive since this is my first job behind the chair since assisting, so I was just excited to get a job with no clientele. However, I’m extremely unhappy at this salon, and feel like I’m being ripped off. Help?

    1. You are an independent contractor, however, she isn’t treating you right for the classification. As the owner she is responsible for supplying you with the materials needed to complete the service (the “cost of doing business” expenses). For us, that includes products. Not tools. So she needs to be supplying you with chemicals and backbar styling products. Those things are not your responsibility. If she wants to make them your responsibility, she needs to pay a whole lot more than 50%. 50% is complete garbage. Once you cover your self-employment tax (roughly 15%), you’re making 35%. Then you have to factor in your product expenses. On top of that you aren’t allowed to sell retail, so she’s screwing you there too. You have less than no incentive to work for her.

      Tell her to do the math herself and ask her if she would waste her time working at that salon if she were in your shoes. Tell her you have bills to pay just like she does and that you can’t afford to work for someone like her that is either:
      a.) greedy and inconsiderate or
      b.) completely clueless as to how to run a damn business.

      Get out of there.

  15. Hi there. We have a situation at our salon and I was wondering if you had any information for me. First, I work in California. I started in my salon in 2013 as a 1099 commission stylist, but we are required to be at the salon on our days whether we have clients or not including the off-season when it’s dead (it’s a tourist town) and are required to clean, etc. I have just recently found out that they expect us to get business licenses also. They have yet to tell me this personally (they bought the salon a year ago and have never owned before so they aren’t always great at communicating), so I have not gotten a business license but the rest of the stylists have. Can they make us get a business license? Can they treat us as employees without or with it? Also, we pay them to be on their insurance. Is this right? Any help you can give would be great.

    1. Illegal. If you are 1099, you set your own schedule no matter what state you’re in…but California in particular has strict rules about how it is to be handled. They also enforce those laws severely. The owner can’t “require” anything of you, least of all menial chores.

      They also can’t make you get a business license. If you are an independent contractor, you can operate as yourself without filing for a DBA. You DO NOT pay them for insurance. They assume that responsibility. If you want professional liability insurance to cover yourself, that is your decision to make and you alone can choose the policy that works for you.

      Honestly, it sounds like they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. They need to attend some business ownership classes and all of you need to get out of there.

  16. Curious to know your thoughts on this…I recently left a salon and the other day found out that one of the stylists there was booked and appointment with Someone that had thick curly hair and wanted a bob haircut! She had a pedicure after but ran too far behind and was unable to do the pedicure. The salon owner text the employee stating she would be deducting $55 for the service from her paycheck. Is this legal?

    1. It is not at all legal. There are legal deductions that employers can dock employees for, but those are limited to things like court-mandated wage docking (for child support payments) and property damage (in certain cases). The federal laws state that as long as the amount you make after the deduction is at least minimum wage, the deduction is legal, but the majority of states have laws in place to protect workers from unreasonable deductions like that. Either way, it is an unacceptable deduction and that employee needs to give that owner a notice stating that she expects those funds to be returned to her paycheck immediately. She can’t be charged because a client didn’t get a service. That’s like charging a retail store employee because a customer didn’t buy a certain dollar amount of items. It’s insanity. What state are you in?

  17. What she’s doing is called “wage theft.” It is incredibly common. Like I said, most states have (at least bare bones) provisions for protecting employees against bad owners, but some don’t have any at all. The issue here is that you aren’t paid hourly. Your rate of pay varies depending on how much money you make in services. So whether or not she’s complying with minimum wage laws is debatable, making it impossible for me to determine whether or not what she did was “technically” legal. Either way, I don’t see a judge ruling in her favor for services that weren’t rendered. That is completely unreasonable. Tell her to demand that the money be returned. If she refuses, report her to the MN labor board and consider finding an attorney. She’s stealing and she needs to be stopped.

  18. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m being misclassified at the salon I’m working at, as well as a few other people there. I work at a salon in TN, a mix of renters and commission. I actually assist one of the renters part of the week and take my own clients on commission the rest of the time.
    Commission stylists are receiving straight 50%, whether that adds up to at least minimum wage for the hours worked or not, no taxes are being deducted. We’re allowed to set our own hours but we can’t leave if it’s slow, and are required to clock in and out. We’ve been told if we clock in late we’ll be docked our first service of the day. We’re also required to supply our own products, which now have to be a particular product line.
    During downtime we’re expected to answer phones, clean, do laundry, etc. We’ve been handed down rules about our conduct and our dress code, and are generally treated as employees. Nobody has an employment contract signed yet, these are new owners and I feel like it’s coming down the line shortly. I plan on bringing it up one on one with the owner soon and suspect it won’t go well, but I wanted as much confirmation as possible that my instincts were right before I put my head on the chopping block so to speak. All the stylists they’re dealing with this way, myself included, are very new to the industry and I don’t want any of us taken advantage of. If I’m wrong I’d love to understand why!

    1. It’s too early, I haven’t had my coffee, lol. I had to delete my last comment because I completely missed the “no taxes are being deducted” part.

      If no taxes are being deducted, you are your own boss. You are absolutely right. They can’t set your schedule, force you to clock in or out, they sure as shit can’t dock your pay for being late when they aren’t paying you a standing wage. Docking is for hourly employees that don’t show up on time. In that instance, then yes, the employer has a right to take away that hour’s wage since the employee wasn’t performing the job. What they’re doing is wage theft…which they don’t even have the right to do because THEY AREN’T YOUR BOSSES.

      Explain to them the situation and find out if this is an honest mistake or intentional abuse. If it’s an honest mistake and these new owners just don’t have a clue what they’re doing, let them know I’m happy to help inform them of how to run the business legally and properly in a way that ensures everyone is happy.

    2. Ok so here’s the spot where my question should have went: EMPLOYEE paid commission only (but is on payroll. We are doing the taxes, etc and issuing a W2). Late nearly every day. Can I dock her? Even if it’s a flat rate fine.

    3. No way. You cannot fine employees for being late. It’s illegal. If she were being paid hourly, you could not pay her for the time she wasn’t working, but she’s strictly commission. You can’t withhold pay she’s earned by completing services. She earned that money. Wage docking is only legal in very specific circumstances (all but one of which require a court order). Keep your hands clean and never ever do it. It’s wage theft and it is punished pretty harshly now. Every state is in the process of writing stricter laws (which include even harsher punishments) for it.

      The only way you can deter her from being late is to write her up. Let her know that if she continues to not show up on time, that she’ll be terminated. There’s no excuse for that. It’s unprofessional and NO client deserves to be sitting there waiting on one of your staff members. The problem is that she knows you value her too much to fire her. You have to decide whether or not she’s really worth keeping. If it’s hard for her to make it to work in the mornings, ask her if she’d prefer to work afternoons instead. If you value her that much, figure out a way to reward her for showing up on time. Personally, I wouldn’t do that. Her inability to arrive on time is disrespectful to you and the clients your business services.

  19. Hey Tina,
    I am a renter in Chicago. I am moving out of state and I have given my landlord notice. She is telling me that she wont let me out of my lease early unless she can sign 2 other stylists or unless I can find a sublet for my chair.
    I told her I was unhappy and wasn’t able to afford to do what I am doing anymore last July and so she offered me a manager position to help me with my financial difficulties. She never actually paid me for being the “manager” although she took 100 dollars off my rent. She told me that if she could get another stylist that she would give me free rent as my compensation for being manager. She ran the ad for a few months until I had resigned my lease and then not again after that until the other day when I told her I was moving. I wouldn’t be so frustrated with the not letting me out of my lease early thing if I were staying in Chicago, but I am moving out of state for pete’s sake. My apartment lease even let me out early! IF I can’t sublet me booth and she doesn’t find any other stylists to rent before I go I am afraid that I’ll have another 6 months of paying rent when I am not even working there. I guess I am just hoping that there is something that I can do. She has said in the past that she would sue a stylist for unpaid rent and our lease clearly says that she can and that she can make the stylist pay her legal fees. I understand the importance of the lease to protect her and me, but REALLY?? I have given her a LOT of notice. Have any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. Is your lease month to month, week to week, six months, or yearly? It sounds like it’s yearly from what you said. If so, the Illinois landlord-tenant laws say that she can do that, unfortunately. :/ (They’re here, btw: Out)

      The best you can do is help her find a tenant in the meantime and hope that you can get someone to take over the space.

      As far as the manager situation, that is super complicated since it is very possible that what she did was a violation of employee classification laws. However, it’s tricky because you accepted a discount on your rent in lieu of payment. Either way, I still think it’s a violation because since you are acting as an employee of hers, she is responsible to cover half of your employment tax. If things get really ugly, I suppose you could attempt to pursue that.

      To be honest, so many booth rental owners violate the law with their contracts, getting out of that lease could be simple. I would have to see it to know for sure though.

    2. My lease is yearly and with the manager thing nothing was ever in writing. So I assume that I am stuck in the lease unless I can get someone to take it over. I may have a lawyer friend look over my lease just to see if I have any options, but I really don’t want things to get ugly between us. I have been there over 8 years and have had a pretty good time there. I am just making a change and I thought that she would be more sympathetic to my cause do to our past conversation and all i’ve done for her and the length of time I’ve been there. BUT…that was my bad for hoping that she actually had a soul. I’m not vindictive or a total ASS hole otherwise I’d bring up some really awful things that she has done.

      Here’s a question for you though…
      In filling out the paperwork to get licensed in another state the application asks for the Name, address and shop license number of past and present employers. When I went on the IL dept of Prof regulations license verification look up site I couldn’t find her or another salon that I had worked for. I asked her about the license number and she said she’s never had one. She does have a license from the City of Chicago Limited Business License, but the guy I spoke to at department of prof regulations said that was a totally different license. Are those salons doing something wrong by not having a license filed with the Dept of Prof Regulations?

  20. Hello, I just stumbled upon this page, and I am so thankful for your wonderful input and research. I am so happy to see you steer so many of these confused stylists in the right direction. I myself am a salon booth rental owner, and am very new at this. i have only been open for a year and a half, after being a 50% commission based employee for 9 years before my salon opening. I am SO ECSTATIC to read all of this and to be reassured that everything I am doing for my booth renters is 100% fair and correct. They are all their own businesses, and I was lucky enough to have a great group of friends that I’ve known for years become my booth renters. Because my salon was just getting off the ground, they pay extremely low and fair rent, and everyone has agreed to do their part in helping with laundry, basic cleaning up after theirselves, emptying garbages, helping each other with our phones, and even helping each other when we may need a shampoo for a client when we are running behind. (As the owner, I take care of the bathroom, coffee area and restocking, as well as dusting shelves that aren’t individual stations, vacuuming, and floor washing.) I have to say after reading so many horror stories, I have truly lucked out. I wish all the best for all the stylists who were brave enough to share their stories to help both owners and other stylists to better their careers! Thank you!

    1. You sound like a great owner. The woman I work for often complains that we don’t clean enough. It frustrates me because the salon is clean. The girls all clean up after themselves. She really has a good group of girls but never gives any of us credit. The only mess is when clients make coffee. She gets annoyed with the sugar being all over the place. It’s not that bad and besides I can’t clean up after every cup of coffee that gets made. Its rude if you clean up right after them. I’ve mentioned before that we as booth renters only have to keep our stations clean. We keep the shampoo bowls wiped down and empty the garbage. I even wash the floor because I want it to look nice for my clients. I hear her tell people that all she does is pickup after us. I wish she was more positive. The problem is that when she is at work she isn’t busy. She concentrates on the hair on the floor. It’s a hair salon:) I’ve been trying to find laws or what exactly a booth renter is responsible for and an owner is responsible for. Plus I once read that if an owner closes for repair she has to pay stylist for money lost. I can’t seem to find that article. Any help….

      1. Well, states legislate landord/tenant rights differently, and many don’t have any legislation pertaining to commercial landlord/tenant law, so it’s wise to have those things drawn into your lease since so many states lean on contract law when disputes occur. She sounds like she’s just looking for things to complain about. Unfortunately, you can’t fix miserable people. 🙁

        1. I can’t find the article but I had read somewhere that if an owner closes the salon she is responsible for income lost. The owner is planning on closing to do some upkeep. I’d like to have some info to show her.

          1. I’ve never heard of this legislation, but ethically, I agree that an employer should pay employees when the business is closed for repairs or renovations. I highly doubt you’ll find any legislation that makes it a requirement, though, as all states are “at-will” employment states.

  21. Hello, I’m not really sure under which I rightfully fall under, but I am a stylist in Virginia. I started working at a salon and was told I’m an independent contractor, with booth rent. Booth rent was $50 and great. I had my own clientele being that I have being doing hair for 11 years, but never in a salon. Sometimes she would send clients to me and I was on commission 50/50. She expected me to be at the shop at certain times, let her know my days off, and question when I wasn’t there. She owns 3 shops, somedays if I was late on booth rent I would go to her shop and take clients she gave me, thinking it was reasonable. Those days I would never see cash because the clients paid at the register. A day or so later she would give me some cash, I figured what was left over from what I owed. Is that right? Should I have received a check? What status do I fall under? After reading this, I realize things there were very unprofessional. Her manager took the booth rent and commission after we received cash from the client at the shop location I worked at, but at the shop the owner worked at it was all handled at the register.

    1. Your entire situation was such a mess, I almost don’t know where to start.

      If you read the article, chances are that you already know that your situation was wrong in nearly every way. You and your owner are both trying to have things your own way and you’re both violating federal tax and labor laws to do so.

      First, you need to make up your mind. Either you’re a renter or you aren’t.

      If you are a renter, you pay a flat fee, you do what you want, you work your own hours, you run your own phones, and you collect your own money. You also pay your own taxes.

      If you are an employee, she sets the hours, she takes the money, and you do what she asks at her prices.

      You cannot have it both ways. You cannot pay rent some days and make commission others. You cannot work her hours if she isn’t paying employment tax on you. You cannot work in exchange for a discount on your rent. All of that is super unprofessional and you’re both setting yourself up for conflict.

      She needs to make you strictly a renter. That means you pay rent. If you’re late, you get evicted and/or fined for it. You cannot work as an indentured servant when you can’t afford rent. That’s absolutely unacceptable. If you can’t consistently pay rent, you either need to find a place with lower rent or have her make you a commissioned employee. What you’re doing now is illegal, complicated, and messy. It has the potential to end very badly for both of you.

      I recommend that both of you read these articles and figure out whether or not this arrangement is really what is best for both of you and if it’s worth risking an audit over.

  22. Hello I too just stumbled upon this site, looking for contract agreements for my booth renters, we have been open for 5 months and I was a booth renter before opening this salon, we are having problems with children being unattended and allowed to tear up the brand new equipment, I do not have written contract agreements with the booth renters and my attorney said I need to get them done, so I am looking for a fair contract for them and myself, especially one concerning how to get the child thing under control, do you have any suggestions on how to protect myself from lawsuits and have a fair contract for the booth renters?

    1. Your attorney is right, you do need written contracts, but before you consider writing them there are multiple things I want to make sure you know before you do. A lot of booth rental owners make these mistakes because they don’t know any better and it ends up invalidating their contracts because their terms are illegal. This is not an exaggeration: I have yet to see a properly written first draft of a booth rental agreement.

      Here are your rules:
      *You are not their boss. The contract is just a lease.
      *You outline the hours the business is open (they must set their own hours within those hours).
      *You explain exactly what is being provided (the space, use of communal shampoo areas, etc).
      *You state what the rent is and when it’s due.
      *You explain what happens when rent is not paid. (Check your state’s landlord-tenant laws regarding this.)
      *Require them to maintain a professional liability insurance policy. It is not your job to reimburse or refund unsatisfied clients or those that may get burned with an iron or have an allergy to a chemical.
      *If they or their clients damage salon property or equipment (outline exactly what constitutes your property: shampoo bowls, fixtures, decor, etc) THEY will be held responsible for replacing the damaged items.
      *They are responsible for any and all fines incurred by any health or board of cosmetology violations. Not you. Put it in writing.

      That’s it.

      No non-competes or non-solicitations. These girls are self-employed, having anything in that contract that indicates otherwise incriminates you for crossing an “inappropriate degree of control” boundary that the IRS draws pretty clearly.
      No vacation time.
      No receptionist or reception desk.
      No requiring them to put your business name on their cards or advertisements.
      No cashiering.

      Those jobs belong to them and them alone. Self-employed means self-employed. They are not your responsibility or your employees.

      As long as you stick with that, you’ll be fine. You provide the space, that is all you do. Your job is to collect a rent check and make sure the building itself is up to code. If you push outside of those boundaries, the IRS will eat you for lunch. If your renters are really resourceful, they could get the labor board on you as well and possibly take you to civil court. If you can afford to, have an attorney that specializes in employment law look over the document. Remember…employment law. Not contract law. Not real estate. Not family law. EMPLOYMENT law only. Accountants don’t understand the details regarding the independent contractor/self-employed renter situation. We’re in a weird industry that doesn’t quite meet any classification, so we have to play it as safe as possible. That means you have to keep your hands clean and let it be known that you are JUST a landlord. That is it. You won’t go wrong as long as you let the self-employed people be self-employed.

      Where the children are concerned, post a conspicuous sign in the waiting area. Keep it out of your contracts. That might be construed as limiting the stylist’s ability to operate her business as she sees fit. The professional liability insurance clause and the clause that holds them responsible for property and equipment damage will handle anything that happens.

      1. I’ve have read a lot of comments and I need your help! I didn’t see a place for me to make a new comment. I’m an Owner for a booth rental salon and I have/had a renter who has a key sign a year contract that isn’t up until November. She got pregnant and left for maternity leave… Which she said she would be out 2 wks and said she couldn’t afford to pay for wks she isn’t working. So I was nice and said ok I’ll let you not pay for those 2 wks. It has now been 6 wks and I find out today from a client that came into the shop today asking if I had spoken with her and I told him not since the last time we spoke. He informed me that she’s switching salons! No notice! No communication! Nothing! She texted him to let him know, but has yet to inform me of anything. Her stuff is still at the shop and she owes me rent for the last week that she worked… 6wks ago! I don’t wanna do anything I’m not allowed to do, but as an owner I have to pay rent no matter what and my landlord would change the locks if I didn’t pay! I feel like I was being super nice and supportive and feel like I’m being swindled 🙁
        Can I lock her stuff up until she pays me the back rent? I’m I only allowed to ask for the last wk she worked? Or I’m I allowed to ask for the other 4 wks I never promised her as well?
        The shop is in Texas by the way. Any info or articles would be greatly appreciated!

        1. WOAH. You were way too nice to her. By a whole LOT. She had no right to that free rent at all. If you have a lease, you have the right to sue her for the unpaid rent, and you definitely should. You do not have the right to lock up her stuff (that’s considered theft by conversion–she could call the police on you for that). You should talk to an attorney who can best advise you. I’m not qualified to give legal advice, and you could really benefit from someone who understands your case and your state laws. In my opinion, you need to take her to court for that rent.

      2. I am a new booth rental salon owner. The previous salons I have worked at was a commission based salon, so how this all works is new to me. I have read and learned a lot on this blog. My question is would it be a bad thing or is it legal to charge more to the booth renters for working out of salon hours? Example would be if on a day we are open till 5 and the stylist stays until 6 or later, would I be able to charge more for that extra hour or per hour they are there out of salon times? We are open later other days so there is options to stay late then. Situations happen I get that but when it happens over and over again it doesn’t seem fair to me to be paying for the salon to stay open if there are other times that stylist can stay late if needed.
        One other question is am I allowed to have booth renters help out with cleaning duties as laundry, filling coffee station, and sweep floors if messy? We do not have anyone who is an employee as it’s only a booth rental salon. Basically everyone pitch in for what happens throughout the day. Thank you

        1. You likely could. There are very few states with commercial landlord/tenant laws. They tend to go by the lease agreement, so if your lease states that additional time comes with additional charges and your state doesn’t prohibit that, you could. You’re absolutely right that it’s not fair for you to be accruing additional operating costs.

          It is not okay to have the renters performing menial tasks for the salon. (Legally, you aren’t their employer and can’t dictate to them. It’s the equivalent of your landlord telling you to trim the hedges outside the building, wash the windows for all the storefronts, or fill a pothole in the parking lot.) They can do so if they choose, but you can’t compel them to by assigning them a chore list or anything similar. I’d recommend hiring an assistant to handle those jobs.

          1. This is interesting, I’m in a situation now where I’m renting a room in a salon and the owner is assigning chores to do (much like the post above) before I leave (such as mopping the salon even though I don’t use that section of the salon AT ALL because I have my own room). There are other renters there too who are being assigned things but she also has commission only workers on the main floor who could be doing these tasks. I have no downtime really anyways to perform these menial tasks, because I’m easily working 10-12 hours regularly. So it’s putting a strain on our business relationship. There are other things of course like a dress code and mandatory meetings which I have so far refused to show up for.

            I’m binge reading the articles and comments (which, btw Tina, is a very impressive mountain of info you’ve created here) and I now understand that the owner is overstepping the boundaries between landlord and tenant.

            So my question is simply, how do I tactfully handle this situation? What information can I compile to educate her on this matter? The owner is new and I don’t think/hope she doesn’t realize that I’m not her employee. She’s actually really friendly and she’s even a loyal client lol but these small things are adding up and I’d like to draw that line to focus on my business. Is there any official govt links that I can send to her that point to what is and isn’t right in this relationship? I also see that you sell your own guides on this site. Would any of those also be something I could consider looking into to help the matter as well? Thanks!

          2. Don’t worry, I already have a post for this. 😉 While that post was written for employees, the same procedure applies to anyone who wants to have a compliance-related discussion. The most relevant compliance-related links will come from your state labor authority and the IRS classification guidelines.

            As for kits, I’d say the most relevant to your situation would be the Microsalon Owner’s Toolkit, but if you’re already devouring articles and know how to calculate your pricing and negotiate a lease, you likely won’t need it.

      3. In the state of NC- can a salon owner require an existing booth renter to sign a contract? In the contract it states that the renter will be charged a $25 a day late fee which is not the same as a landlord law. It also states that the renter has to give a 30 day notice to leave the salon.

        1. What type of contract is it? A lease? If so, yes, they can (and you should). It’s not abnormal for late payment penalties to be assessed if a renter doesn’t remit payment on time, nor to require notice to terminate a lease.

    2. Does the salon owner have the right to take up keys from the booth renters? We are having that problem now in Texas. Early morning girls and later girls are about to leave . After 17 years or so of customers being able to get their hair done they no longer will. All we find is IRS saying they must have a KEY. Please help thanks

    3. I’m sorry, but the information you’re looking at might be outdated. The IRS quit making keyholding mandatory a while back. As long as the owner ensures that the building is open during the operating hours stated in the contract, they do not have to provide anyone else in the salon with a key. It is up to them if they want to do so. I once worked in a booth rental place that used mechanical deadbolts with keycards that would automatically lock themselves after people entered and left outside of normal business hours. That worked really well. You should consider bringing that up as a solution.

      1. If you were provided a key and your lease states that the lessor is providing you with said key, can that booth renter work outside of salon hours then? or, does the booth renter still have to abide by salon’s normal business hours?

  23. Hello.
    I own a salon in South Australia. I am essentially a nail technician/beautician and are very much hands-on in my shop. I bought the premises from a hairdresser in which did not leave me (as requested) any client information at all, so you could say its brand new business. Its difficult enough growing a new business and with some old clientele making their way back to the shop for hairdressing services in which I am incapable of doing I thought of bringing in an independent contractor to take up the hair side of my business. (I have been advertising for a booth renter I think you call them but not successful so far ). I had an enquiry for the position and these were the details I have given her to think about. 1 – pay a wage in her case shes asked for $25.00/hour. 2- paid for the work she does – eg on-call 3 days a week. ( she lives 5 minutes from the salon). 3 – I supply all the colour, shampoo’s/cond/brushes/combs/clips/towels. She brings her own scissors ( we have our favourites ). 4 – I make bookings for her and she brings in clients of her own also, we have a shared diary online. 5 – She will have her own key and gate key.
    Now as far as I know ( im pretty new at all of this ) this is a pretty sweet deal for her and I. But she has just tried to get 5 hour minimum / day wage out of me for 3 days a week regardless if I have only 1 cut booked in. And now trying to get another $1.00 making it $26hr.
    My question is – Am I being unreasonable? Or should I stick to my guns? Or should I perhaps put her on a percentage based arrangement. Im seeing her again for a final meeting this Friday (24th jan). Would love to hear your thoughts before I meet with her.

    1. I’m not sure what is normal there. All I know is what is normal here. So, keep that in mind, lol.

      First of all, $25 an hour is quite a bit of money. If you are providing product…it is an obscene amount of money. Unless you are charging a considerable deal for your hair services, I don’t see how you plan on breaking even on her, let alone making a profit.

      Why exactly does she need her own key? I would absolutely not allow that at all. How do you know that she isn’t coming in after hours, servicing clients with your product in your business, and pocketing the cash? No way. Do not do that. It is a bad, bad idea.

      In America, in most salons, we make a set hourly rate OR 50% commission on service sales…whichever is higher at the end of the pay period. Never both. If you are paying her an hourly wage, what incentive does she have to actually work on clients? She’s getting paid either way. She has no incentive to ensure that the client is happy and excited about returning. If she’s collecting commission, she will make damn sure that woman will be back by providing excellent service.

      I’m afraid that she knows that you’re new to salon ownership and is trying to take advantage of you. Personally, I would tell her your terms. If she refuses to accept them, kick her to the curb and tell her, “Good luck finding better elsewhere.” She won’t.

      Read this article. It will help you immensely. It outlines all the different compensation methods salons use most commonly and weighs the pros and cons of each.

  24. I work at a spa and am supposably a self employed who pays CPP and my own taxes, but I believe I am treated as an employee on many levels! I had to sign a form to carry out other duties at the spa like answering calls, cleaning etc. I am ruled by an employer and paid twice a month, commission! She provides a place, tools and supplies, everyone is questioning if we are really employees? We have to get our boss to approve anytime we want off, and she expects us to work 8-9 hour shifts and come 30mins before clients! Does this sound right?

    1. Absolutely not, lol. If you’re self-employed, you answer to nobody. If you’re an IC, you do a job, you get paid, you leave. No bitchwork. Read these posts too, there’s more information that’s specific to people in your situation.

  25. I am hairdresser in Ohio I have been a hairdresser for 25 years an have been at the same salon for 21 of them . However this is the third owner I have had . I work on a commission which is 60 %. I have busy weeks and really slow weeks. which I am used to. But my question I have is what is the legal way of pay ? our owner makes us work certain hours, but the problem is we make our commission and that’s it. so if I’m scheduled from 9 to 2 on one of the days I work and all I have is 1 client the whole day am I required to stay . she never pays us anything else. so I feel if she isn’t paying me anything but my commission and I have to sit there and do nothing else why do I need to stay. I did mention to her I don’t know how you can make us stay here when we are not getting paid to sit here. There is a lot more to this but this is the major issue. I feel its not right. She is the boss and she comes and goes whenever and however much she wants. She sets a bad example. I went into work one day last week and she wrote on appointment book that all girls had to stay 2 hours longer because we didn’t make very much money this week so we have to stay . but no one had any extra appoinments because we have a normal time we close. I feel she is doing things she shouldn’t be doing. She also took extra money from my check because she claimed I didn’t charge enough money for a service I did. there was no price listed on our price sheet for this and she wasnt there so I used my judgement. she made me pay for the whole cost of product. not sure if that’s right either. She also cancelled our long distance phone service so if we have to call a client we cant if its out of the area. she makes us use our own phones. please any info on this would be great

    1. I was actually *just* talking about this situation in one of the Facebook groups I belong to. This is unacceptable, but not illegal. And it’s bullshit that it isn’t illegal.

      FLSA dictates that businesses that bring in at least $500k per year are required to pay their employees at least minimum wage (federal or state, whichever is higher). My opinion is that this arrangement is stupid and gives salon owners and other small business owners the ability to abuse their staff by not offering them fair wage. Your inability to manage your business finances should not be awarded with an exception to the FLSA which allows you to continue to hire staff and get away with working them for free. If they are on your schedule, following your commands, and doing services at your pricing then they need to be getting paid for their time. Period.

      This is why I encourage salon professionals to stop accepting jobs at salons that don’t offer them a living wage. We are not charity workers. Just because this is the way “it has always been done” does not mean that it is acceptable. Owners want to moan about how they struggle with employee turnover–this is why. Nobody is going to sit around at your command and wait for business…at least not for long.

      There are owners out there (and we have all seen this, I’m sure) that don’t have enough business to support the staff they have, let alone extra staff…yet they keep hiring. The owner has girls cleaning, answering phones, folding towels, and doing other menial chores without compensation. It is absolutely unacceptable. In no other industry do you see these practices happening. If you can’t afford to put your staff on a commission vs hourly compensation plan, then you need to address the reason why. Either you are not managing your finances appropriately, you opened your shop in an over-saturated area, you can’t afford to have the staff to begin with, or you are not advertising well enough to build the business and support the staff.

      The reason I support a commission vs hourly rate is that it essentially lights fires under both the ass of the owner and the employee. The employee wants to make commission since it’s higher than minimum wage. The employee also knows that under-performance will lead to hours being cut and eventually termination. The owner has more incentive to ensure the stylist is busy with clients (because they have to PAY THEM if they’re not busy), so they are more likely to invest more into advertising and by extension, into their staff’s financial welfare. Owners with employees on a commission vs hourly plan are far more involved in their business overall. It also makes it easier for the owners to separate their weak professionals from their strong ones and build a more successful business. Because the employee is getting paid for her time, she is also more likely to do what she’s asked (like answer phones and fold towels). The commission vs hourly model is the only one that holds the owner responsible for the business’ performance.

    2. The commission-only model is lazy, unfair to both the owner and professionals, and hurts the business overall because of it. I hear these complaints from my subscribers about how they feel that nobody takes our industry seriously. It’s because we make up our own rules and they’re absolutely ridiculous. The commission-only structure seems great on the surface but is entirely inappropriate and inadequate. Every time a potential owner (or current owner) tells me, “But I can’t afford to compensate them like that,” my response is, “Then shut your doors and don’t open a business until you can.”

      For those out there that want to argue, “But commission is great!” Let me ask you this, “WHAT makes commission only so great?! That you’re expected to work set hours without guaranteed compensation? Is it that you’re expected to take orders from a ‘boss’ that isn’t paying you for the privilege? Is it that the owner has no incentive to put any effort into actually managing their business and instead expects you to ‘market yourself’ in addition to being their personal bitch? Owners: is it that your staff resent you because you expect them to contribute to the salon without paying them? Is it that you struggle to retain your staff because the second things get slow, they’re off to the next business?”

      Yeah. No thanks. I never understood or supported commission only. It is a joke. It does nothing but invite conflict and unhappiness into the salon. Successful salons are team-based. That means the owner and the employees work together as a team to make the business a success. In commission only or booth rental salons, that shared responsibility is lacking. If you want to own a business, own it. Accept responsibility for the staff you hired.

      …obviously this is a touchy issue for me. Read these posts for sure. The only way to fight this is to stop allowing it to happen.

      1. Tina, I have been working in a salon as a booth renter for 6 yrs pretty much full time. Due to health issues after 31 yrs of hairdressing I am now receiving disability for several things and have cut my hours quite a bit. Still paying the same rent and no way has reflected on my capability to do my part in the salon as a team player. The owner now want’s to take my booth space and hire someone to work it full time. In other words I would loose my space to do my clients. She doesn’t want to install another booth. I want to continue to work the small amt of hrs to be able to take care of my clients. Is this legal for her to ask me to leave, when, and if ever she finds another stylist because of the full time I cannot give her ? She has been through and supported me through this 2 yrs process and I always kept her informed on what I am able to do. I pay rent faithfully every week and fully participate in all other salon “duties”.

        1. She legally can, but it’s not appropriate for her to expect you to work full-time (her only legitimate concern should be whether or not your rent is being paid in full and on time). You’re giving her more than she’s owed in terms of your participation with salon chores, so I’m confused as to why she’s having a problem to begin with. There’s a reasonable solution that’s fairly obvious (hire someone to work your station part-time and reduce your rent to reflect the days you actually occupy it), but she seems either unwilling or unable to recognize it. It sounds to me like she’s trying to get you out, for one reason or another. It’s probably not personal, since you said she stuck by you and you’re clearly an asset to the business. It’s more likely she’s looking for more control than she’s able to exercise over a renter and would rather install a full-time employee in your place. If that’s the case, it’s reasonable, but sort of a crappy thing to do. Have you considered talking to her about maybe becoming an employee and staying on part-time? That way, you still get to work and see your clients, you can eliminate the expenses and hassle that come with renting, and she can find another professional to work the hours you aren’t there.

  26. I need anwers on a question , I was supposedly renting a room in a salon had my own clientel. How ever the owner put a video camera in the room to see what kind of money was exchanged so she could badger me about giving her more rent and commission. Isn’t it illegal to put camera’s in the building in a private room where people are getting undressed including myself and allowing her husband to watch this video. Also she said I was doing illegal things which I know for a fact I wasn’t. I also know that she was trying to turn everyone against me I used a room out of the salon she even allowed me to change it.what is wrong with this picture and should i contact a lawyer I feel as if my rights have been viloated.

    1. The laws on where security cameras can and can’t be placed for each state are here:

      As far as I know, however, it is illegal to place a video camera where people would normally expect privacy (such as bathrooms and rooms used for changing or disrobing for services–this would apply to tanning rooms and massage rooms).

      As far as the rent goes, your rent should have been a fixed weekly or monthly rate. No commission. She cannot charge a portion of your gross sales as rent. That’s not how that works. This amount needed to have been decided on and put in writing before you even started working there. Any changes to the rent would then require a new lease and 30 days notice.

      I’m also not sure on this, but you may want to ask a lawyer. I don’t think that a landlord can place a camera into a leased property without the leasee’s permission.

        1. Yes. A break room isn’t a place anyone would normally expect a reasonable degree of privacy (as is the case in restrooms and changing rooms). In some states, however, they may not be permitted to record audio, as that may violate the state’s wiretapping laws.

    1. You are an employee, not an independent contractor. You need to inform the owner that what they’re doing is a violation of federal tax and labor laws. A huge spa in my area that had been operating like that for 25 years just got audited for it. They owe *tons* in back taxes to their past and present staff. It shut them down and bankrupted them. Those contracts you signed are not valid. You need to file an SS-8 with the IRS and get the money back that you’re owed.

  27. I have been a booth renter at a salon for the past 3 years. I recently changed my schedule to part time status and now have been told that I am a “floater”. I am fine with sharing a station with another part time stylist, however, part time people can no longer put combs/brushes in the drawer of the station, it is to remain empty. We can sell our own retail products, however, since we are guaranteed a station we can not store our products at the salon. Basicly we are required to go the the beauty supply upon request of the client (who has time for that?) or sell it from our trunk because we can not stock it in the salon. Where can I find IRS laws that show we are renting a station to be quaranteed on our requested work days?

    1. There are no laws that pertain to that, federal or otherwise. That’s a landlord/tenant situation and I’m certain that no laws exist there either. That’s something you’ll have to settle with the owner.

  28. Hi Tina, I have a situation that I need your help on. The only place I know where to start is the beginning.

    I owned a salon in Texas for 10 years. It was a mixed salon of booth renters and salon employees. I sold that business 3 years ago to one of my booth renters and agreed (by contract) to work in the salon as a booth renter for 5 years, so that the new owner could have peace of mind that loyal customers would continue to do business in the salon as she took over and made many changes.

    Every employee and every booth renter in the salon has a key. The salon hours are 9-5 Tue – Sat. All booth renters have always been allowed to work their own hours outside of salon hours (with the exception that the salon is closed on Sunday and Monday and no one is allowed to be inside with out permission from the owner on those 2 days).
    There have been some changes but overall things at the salon have run very smoothly for the past 3 years with no problems at all….until now….two weeks ago someone left the salon unlocked for the weekend. It was left completely unattended for 4 hours before our business neighbors noticed something was not right and called the owner. Thank goodness nothing was robbed!!!
    That was a big mistake that someone made…and unfortunately, no one fessed up to being the last one to leave. And even if you can narrow it down to a few people, she still couldn’t be sure because SO MANY people have keys to the salon. (Employees, booth renters, old employees, cleaning ladies, and even some of the owner’s family members).

    This is the big problem…

    The owner changed the locks over that weekend and didn’t tell anyone. Some booth renters, including myself had 8:00am appointments on Tuesday and no way to get inside. When we called her to find out what was going on she told us that salon hours are from 9-5 and she will be there at 9 to open the door for us. We were floored and our customers were just left to stand there and wait an hour….which in turn threw our entire day off schedule.
    Once the owner arrived, she informed us that all booth renters (7 in total) are no longer allowed to work outside of salon hours. We must all work within the 9-5 time frame. And that we would need to reschedule our appointment books accordingly because at 5:00 the doors will be locked. From now on, no one will get a key but the owner and she will be there every day from 9-5 to let us in.

    I have worked in this salon for 17 years, and I have always had the same schedule. 8am – 7pm four days a week. And many of the other booth renters have been there 10 plus years with the exact same scenario. And we don’t know what to do. We are all shocked and heartbroken by her actions.
    I agree, leaving the salon door unlocked is a HUGE mistake. And something must be done. But I think she is going a little to far.
    My question to you is…
    Can she legally do what she is doing?
    Can she force her both renters who she has allowed to work before and after salon hours under her ownership for the past 3 years… now adhere to a 9-5 schedule only?
    As booth renters…Can she legally take our keys from us, regardless of the reason?

    I am so lost….please help!!!

    1. This is SUCH a crappy situation! I feel bad for you both! Unfortunately, the IRS changed the keyholding requirements (I think it was last year, but I’m not certain…it may have been two years ago). So, yes, she can legally do what she’s doing, but there are other solutions you can consider that are cheap and can keep everyone happy. Be prepared though, if I were the owner I would expect that the booth renters would chip in together to cover the expense. (With 7 of you, that really shouldn’t be a problem.)

      Anyways, there are mechanical deadbolt systems that are very affordable. They are operated with keycards or passcodes. You swipe the card, the door unlocks, you enter, the door locks. You leave the building, the door locks behind you. This allows you to come and go as you please and the owner has a log of who entered and left. These locks can be disengaged during business hours. That’s the solution that worked best at other salons I’ve consulted for. I really think it’s one you should consider. Before the IRS changed the keyholding requirements, owners had the same issue yours did. These mechanical deadbolts make it a non-issue.

    2. Here are some pretty cool ones I was looking at.

      This one uses codes or cards. Codes and passkeys can be revoked at any time (great for when a disgruntled renter decides to leave). They can be managed remotely as well.

      Here is another one I was looking at (for my house, lol). It doesn’t get released until March, but it looks really neat too. It can be managed with a phone. It also looks SUPER awesome. Watch their video.

    1. I’m glad I could help! I really think all owners of booth rental establishments should have this system in place. It protects their building and their staff before/after hours and allows them full control over who can enter and exit without changing locks every time. It also keeps the renters happy because they can use the space as they please on their own schedule.

      1. Quick question! ? In a salon where there are both booth renters and commission pay. …is the salon manager allowed to tell the booth renters that they can’t take any walk-ins?

    1. WOAH. $400 a week is ROBBERY. Holy shit. Okay, wow. Anyways, I don’t know about TN, but in FL you could rent your own 1200 sqft building for that. That’s insanity.

      You need to tell him that his current method puts him in a very scary grey area with the IRS. He should not be providing anyone with product. That’s not his responsibility and doing so could get him into trouble. He needs to lower your rent, quit purchasing product, and drop the retail sales requirement. It’s fine for him to offer a bonus for sales, but requiring renters to sell makes him look more like an employer, not a landlord. Same goes for the product purchasing. Also, if you are paying for a space, that space needs to be available to you when you need it. End of discussion. That is what you’re paying rent for. If he wants to be an employer, tell him to make everyone employees. He can’t have his cake and eat it too.

  29. Hi tina my name is katharine I read alot what you said about taxes and insurances etc, but my questions is I want to void a problem I had 3months ago that really botherd me especially when you put the time and effort in your job that you love as a career! So heres my problems Danielle aka my boss started me off at two different wages to clock in when I started working at the spa! One was pose to be 8.00 an hour as front desk …then 3 days week I would be their assistance in the back cleaning making 5.15 hour well October came along and I pass my state Board so I was expecting my contact to change to commisson making atleast 40 % or more especially when my contact is up and due over 60 days when I ask her to change my hourly to commisson as spa making 40 % and 7.25 as their assistance bc knowing my boss I would still be cleaning after them so I wanted a commission and a hourly rate bc I a lways end up working over time or doing more than license esthetician should be doing( cleaning toliet or doing 6 loads of laundry )while everyone wants to leave , while im still here so I thought to my self why so little of a pay when I work 40 to 48 hours when shes not paying correctly, so I ask her again and her comment. ?. she said I dont deserve more than 5.15 and so we couldnt come on a understanding so I quit . Long story sorry how do I stop this again from happening again?

    1. Well, first read this quote I found online:
      “It is you who tells people what you’re worth. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.” Don’t accept it. I have two other posts that can help you too. One is more motivational and the other is practical. Read them both. You are your own advocate. Never accept less than you’re worth.

  30. Hi Tina,

    I have been at a salon for almost 3 years in California. I had been out of the hair industry a few years when I started this job and was really eager to start working again.

    Before, I had always been an employee being commission and getting my taxes taken out with benefits. But when I started here, I signed a contract as an independent contractor, although I was not paying rent. My contract instead says that i am in exchange “paying 50% of my income to the owner of the establishment”. So I am a commission 1099 stylist. I pay my own taxes, pay for my own health insurance, but I’m on a 50/50 commission basis. I use her products, don’t make commission off of products, and I have to fill out a “time off request form” when I want time off. She also writes my checks.
    Other people in the industry tell me that this is weird and I should move on, that I am being taken advantage of because I have the worst part of being commission and the worst part of being an independent contractor. I feel like I’m half and half, and a little confused as to what to do, especially because I have become close with my “boss” over the 3 years. Any advice? Is this legal what she is doing? Is there a loop hole I got caught in?
    Thank you!

    1. This is weird and you should move on. It also is a garbage deal for you. Why would you accept 50% when you have to pay 15% of that in federal employment tax (and then whatever your state charges for income tax)? It’s insanity. You’re making less than 35%. Nobody can survive on that. If you are close to your boss, explain to her that she’s doing things wrong and that what she’s doing puts her in a very bad position where she could get audited for misclassification. If you are an independent contractor, you don’t “ask for time off.” That’s something an employee does. You cannot be put on a schedule. You’re self-employed. If she wants you to work her hours, she has to pay employment tax on you.

  31. Not sure if this has been asked, read through alot of the questions, I worked at a salon in SC for 1 1/2 years before I quit, I was paid 50% commission by the owner and received a 1099 at the end of the year, the only thing I had to supply for myself were my tools, which she told me what brand I had to purchase, she supplied all products, we had to be there Tuesday – Saturdays atleast 9-5, sometimes later for evening appointments, I had to ask permission to take vacation, make dr appointments during working hours, etc. I was required to assist if needed, clean, do laundry and participate with any business related events even after hours. I never signed a contract but was responsible for my own taxes, I have been licensed for 25 yrs but always worked as a booth renter until I moved here. Was this legal and is there anything I can do about it?????

  32. OMG Tina you are an abundant fountain of beauty business know how! I owe you a Christmas card at least! Here’s my question though: I am booth renter in Ohio and just received notice that I am no longer able to retail my own products in the salon. Is this legal? The owner is very nice and I don’t want to start anything over this if she is right and she can prohibit us from doing so. She says the reason she is doing this is because she thinks people aren’t paying their taxes, and apparently the salon can be held accountable? We don’t have contracts. I asked about this before I started working there and she said it was because she didn’t want people who no longer wanted to be there to feel stuck (it would hurt morale). Also I wouldn’t care very much(I’m the worst retailer out there) but I just bought like $200 in retail(that I can’t return because it was sets that I have already sold parts of). And I don’t want to have to divert it to get my money back… THANKYOU for any advice!!!!!

    1. Well, she’s wrong about being held accountable for the renters’ taxes. That is entirely their problem since they are self-employed. She’s just a landlord. Her hands are clean. She can keep you from retailing your own product but only if those products are ones that she is already selling in the salon’s store. A lot of owners do this to help offset the cost of advertising and stuff. It’s not a bad thing, really. She seems pretty cool, just let her know that you bought a bunch of stuff and you can’t return it. See if she’ll buy it from you or sell it for you. Definitely let her know that she doesn’t have to worry about the renters paying their taxes. It’s totally not her problem.

      1. I’m in a situation where I’m a Booth Renter and I’m not allowed to sell my own retail period. The owner has a “retail area” and we can only sell her retail and get absolutely no kick back when we do so. I also do not have a contract with the owner in any way shape or form. Is this legal? I’m in Missouri.

        1. You need a lease agreement for your own protection, but it’s generally not illegal not to have one, or to rely on a verbal agreement (it’s just not a particularly smart way for either of you to operate). Typically, commercial landlords can restrict their tenant’s ability to compete with their retail boutique as a term of their rental arrangement. That’s not abnormal and I have yet to find any laws against it.

    1. The rules on this are the same as in the states. Once she provides notice of termination, it is up to you whether or not to let her work through that notice. It’s nice that she offered, but you don’t have to keep her on throughout it.

  33. Hi Tina. My husband is currently a booth renter at a salon in Los Angeles. He has a loyal clientele who have stayed with him over the years, and is responsible for a lot of the traffic that the salon and other stylists sees. My question is, as he is embarking on a new venture at a new salon, what are the the rules in regards to his OLD place of work passing on the new salon information to his clients that call in? We are fearful the the greedy owner will claim to not know in an effort to keep his extensive client list. Are there legal guidelines for this type of thing?
    Thank you.

    1. Since he was a booth renter, he is his own boss. Those client records are his and have been his to begin with. The owner has absolutely no claim to them. Honestly, she shouldn’t even have them to begin with. Was she requiring him to use a central reception desk? Because that is not legal or appropriate.

  34. Hi there! I worked strickly commission at a salon. However. I brought in all of my OWN spa skin care, waxing, supplies and furniture.
    I never paid booth rent. I quit a couple months ago and honestly have had a hard time to try to go get all of my things due to horrible snow storms, no babysitter and work schedule. The owner NEVER called to touch I finally called to inform her I was coming in to get mg things. She then told me they’re not there and I owe her 3 months booth rent for leaving my things for 7 days a week. She never told me that when I quit or called or anything! We just filed bankruptcy and I’m NOT paying for something she never made me aware of? She also removed all of my things without consulting with me and I guess she had water damage where all of my things were and I don’t even know if it’s ruined. I live in Indiana too. Thanks. I also never signed anything stating I had to pay rent.

    1. For this issue, you may want to check this post:

      It has more specific answers regarding what happens with personal property once a renter/employee leaves a salon. She can try to charge you a storage fee, but she was required to have notified you in writing that she was doing so. Read that post! It’ll tell you all you need to know. If you have any more questions, comment on that post and I’ll help any way I can.

  35. Hi. I am commissioned 25% in my salon. I do not have taxes taken out of my checks. My boss changes the schedule all the time. I was supposed to be off today actually. But my boss emailed my at 8:00 last night saying to come in from 10-5. I had to cancel all my wedding planning activities for the day. Then at 11 last night (I was already asleep) she texted me saying come in 12-6. Can she keep changing the schedule like this with such little notice? She will also make me stay and clean when I am done with clients for the day. We have a checklist of things we have to clean at the end of the night. If we are scheduled to be off hours before closing time, she still makes us doing closing procedures. (makes no sense to clean for the night if there are still other people working and will mess up what we just cleaned). I have gotten yelled at and docked pay because I have cleaned “too little”. For example, I will clean the mirrors and sweep the office and stock the stations and then hep other employees set up the rest of their appointments before leaving. There has never been a rule to where it says we have to do a certain number of things before we have to leave. Is it legal for her to keep changing my commission pay when she is in a bad mood when I leave? I feel like she only gets upset with my cleaning skills when she is having issues at home. Any time I try and talk to her about my hours, I get yelled at by her and its her way only. Thank you, I am so young in this business and i am confused. I might have more to add and I will post it in the comments. I am also in Illinois if that helps. 🙂

    1. Wow. Okay. First of all, explain to me why you accepted a job that pays you 25%? That is absolutely ludicrous. If you aren’t having taxes taken out of your check, you’re really making less than 10% since you are required to pay 15% to the IRS in self-employment tax. Illinois income tax is 5%, so YOU ARE MAKING 5%. That’s it.

      If you read the article above, it should be pretty obvious to you that literally everything this owner has done is illegal. She cannot dock pay from you like that, that is wage theft.

      You need to find a lawyer that specializes in employment law immediately. Like, TODAY. If you are at work right now, walk the fuck out. This is bullshit. I’m legitimately angry about this. This woman needs to be dealt with severely. You need to report her to your local labor department, file an SS-8 with the IRS, and have her shut down for what she’s done. This is INSANE.

      Better yet, give her my information and tell her to explain herself to me. She’ll need the practice for when she’s sitting in front of a judge. She’s a thief and a parasite. People that abuse American workers like that need to be dealt with like terrorists. What she’s doing is a complete abuse of you. It’s a violation. If I had her information, she would be getting a phone call right now (after I reported her to every agency I can think of).

      I am serious. Please, please get out of there. Tell your coworkers the same.

  36. Thank you! I will look into the labor department stuff. Im sick of her controlling my life. I’m getting married in a few months and have so much to do and no time since I am always working. We are starting to be open 7 days a week, so we will all be working 7 days a week. As soon as I find a new job, I am so out that day.And will never look back!!!!! I will also be reporting to her to the health department, we do not follow half of the regulations!

    1. Every day you spend there is one day too many. After gas, you are making nothing. Bring that to her attention and ask her if she thinks you’re stupid. You have literally no incentive to work there anymore. Add to that the fact that she’s a complete bitch and a slave driver, so she doesn’t exactly inspire loyalty. I am stunned that she was even able to find employees willing to put up with that garbage to begin with.

  37. We have salon Assistant/Cosmetologist who is an employee. When walk-in present themselves and she services their hair services needs. Should she still continue to receive her hourly pay? She receive commission pay from the walk in.

    1. If she’s being expected to work as your assistant, she should continue to get paid for that when she’s acting in that capacity. If she’s going to be a cosmetologist, you should bring in another assistant. Having her work both positions at separate compensation rates is setting yourself up for conflict. Clients may also question her skills if she’s floating from assistant to stylist and back. If she’s licensed and you consider her good enough work on clients, why not give her a station?

  38. I am so glad I found this blog! I have been looking for some good resources on booth renting and unfortunately I am finding that there just isn’t a lot out there (or I just don’t know where to find it).
    I am currently working as a commission only stylist. The owner of my salon has been planning on switching over all of her employees to booth renters for some time. The problem is that neither the salon owner or any of the current employees have worked within a booth rental situation before. I am ready to take my career to the next step, but very nervous because I really feel I have no guidelines on how to start booth rental. The state cos board in Ohio where I work, has basically nothing to offer except some basic tax forms, and the famous IRS article describing the difference between contractors and employees. Other than that, all I know is that I will keep 100% of my earnings, make my own schedule within salon hours, and provide my own products and materials. I am waiting on my employer to see a copy of our rental contract before we start, but I am not sure what to expect because to be honest, she has pulled some shady stuff in the past on myself and other employees. Can you give me some links or tips for those starting out, or direct me to who I should consult with first (accountant, attorney, or both?) Thank you!

  39. Hi. I have a question that I really need answers to. I have been at a company for over a year now and to me it seems as though I’m working under a double standard. They want to make me work like an employee and pay me as an independant contractor. They do not take out taxes, make me file a 1099 etc. I am not paid an hourly wage. It’s almost like a sliding scale. If business is really bad I get $50/day 🙁 which equals $500 checks every 2 weeks. Plus my tips. If my commission equals more than that- then I get more. I do not understand and after doing to math it’s less than minimum wage at times. They even have the nerve to tell me I can’t go to a Dr appointment for a necessary sonogram for my baby. PLEASE… Let me know what you can about this situation. Thank you.

    1. I got screwed on my taxes so bad that since I had to file a 1099, I went ahead and claimed deductions and such to help make up for this catastrophe. Is that going to hurt me if I file this form with the irs?

    2. I’m not sure. I doubt it’ll hurt you as much as it’ll hurt her. She’ll be forced to pay your back taxes and the taxes for every employee (past and present). She’ll also be fined.

  40. Well, technically you can be commission and be an employee or independent contractor. It all depends on whether or not your owner is taking taxes out. So, if you look at your check and your boss is withholding and matching your tax contribution, you are an employee. If your boss is not, you are an independent contractor.

  41. Hey Tina, quick question for you.

    I was recently fired from my job of 4 years at a high end, full service salon/spa . I was working as an employee (I received a w2 every year), strictly commission. I was able to come and go based on my appointments, meaning I didn’t have to stay and twiddle my thumbs if there was nothing on the books, which was actually really nice. My days off are Sunday and Monday and on those days I typically spend my time helping out at my mother-in-law’s nail salon. I met my husband 3 years ago and during those years I have always a lot of my free time helping out by answering the phone and taking walk-in wax appointments when it was really busy. Over the years I have built a very small clientele and my previous manager at my full time job never minded that I worked elsewhere as long as it never interfered with my work schedule or my availability. That being said, recently a coworker overheard me speaking to another coworker about working at my mother in laws salon and she took it upon herself to inform my bosses. She misunderstood my conversation and told them I was stealing clients from our spa and funneling them to my mother in laws nail salon. NOT TRUE. I am not compensated for the work that I do at my mother in laws salon, I help out simply because they are my family. My mother in laws business is also much smaller than my previous place of employment and she charges a lot less for waxes services than I did at the spa. Based on that information alone, I would never ask my clients at the spa to see me at the nail salon because I do not get compensated for it. Was it wrong for them to fire me because of this? I did not sign a non-compete and although there is a policy listed in our handbook about working for another salon, I was not getting compensated therefore I did not think it applied to me.

  42. Hi,
    I have a couple of questions..A little background here first.
    I own a small salon in Mn. Before buying the salon, I had previously worked there as an employee for many years. The other employee stayed on with me, but after 2 years decided to go to booth rental. Fine with me, I too like it better. I originally had a lease with the building owner, but after the lease ran out, the building had changed ownership, and the new landlord and I never got around to signing a new lease so I am on a month to month, which is fine with me, it’s been that way for many years..even with the building having new ownership 2 more times since then. When the gal switched over to booth rental, I never had her sign a lease with me, we’ve worked together for many years since and have never had a serious problem or any problem that we couldn’t come to terms with eachother on. I came across this blog, when the subject of business cards came up.. I had new ones made for me and she needed some also,so she told my guy who was making them how she wanted them. she wanted stylist/owner on them but still my logo, address, and phone along with her cell #. I didn’t think it was appropriate that she should have owner on the card with my business name on it, so I told her that she had the option of doing a generic card with her name owner/stylist and her cell but could not use my shop name, address or phone #.. unless she stated “located” at.. That is how I came across this blog, and read onto some interesting things..after reading I’m thinking that I should have a written lease aggreement with her, for protection, on both parts…even tho it may seem a formality at this point, you never know what the future may hold right?
    My question is this.. where can I find a sample lease to go by? and although she is a booth renter, is it wrong for me to expect that she keeps her booth in state board required conditon, wears appropriate clothing, ( clean, untorn, no bedhead hair under a cap,eating at the front desk, picking up after herself or her clients in reception room, loud, abrasive behavior or language?) These are all common sense things and I understand that I can’t tell her what to do, but can I state these things in a lease? I would imagine that there would be something in the lease that requires some sort of professinalism in the salon as there are other clients in there as well. These are NOT problems that I have with this person, but if I were to take on another renter, I would want to make sure that I’m covering myself. I’ve heard horror stories of salon owners walking into their salons after hours and finding their renters inside doing some very non professional things if you get my drift. Right now the verbal aggreement is pretty basic, the salon is open tues thru sat..her rent is based on her working those 5 days.. if she wants to work sun or mon, she’s to pay extra for those days worked ( tho she has and I’ve never charged her for it)..she helps out with shop cleanliness, we take appts for eachother, and I give her 1 week a year rent free for her vacation.. So we give and take and it works well..
    So to recap ( sorry) questions are..
    Is there a sample lease available that I could follow,
    can I state certain professional requirements such as no offensive behavior, professional clothing and cleanliness
    adhere to state rules and regulations at all times
    responsible for picking up after themselves and their clients

    Pretty basic stuff, but from what I’m reading here it looks like it pretty much ALL has to be documented.
    thanks for any input!

  43. These are all really good questions. You were doing the right thing by telling her not to put your business information. She is her own business owner and needs to advertise that with her own name. She can’t list herself as an “owner” of your establishment. So, good job on that.

    To answer your questions:
    1.) Yes, there are a ton of sample leases online. Do not follow them. Have the lease written by an attorney that specializes in contract law then have them looked over by an attorney that specializes in employment law. It is WELL WORTH the money you spend. A well-written lease protects you in the long-run and if it is written properly, can be used for every booth renter you ever hire. Do not ever attempt to write your own lease. Ever. Not even once. I’ve seen too many owners write bad leases that ended up either incriminating them for crossing lines into “employer” territory or worse, having invalidated it entirely by not writing it properly. Go to a professional where this is concerned. It is the single most important document you have as a booth rental establishment owner.

    2.) You can have requirements, but they must be generalized and apply to the common areas. You should also back up as many of those requirements citing health codes and cosmetology laws as possible. For example, if your state requires that cosmetologists not wear tank tops to work, that needs to be reflected in the lease, citing the specific statute. You definitely can’t set any kind of dress code, personal hygiene code, or tell them how to do business. (So omit anything about how their hair should be styled or what kind of makeup or jewelry they’re permitted to wear.) You can put in “common area conduct codes.” Those would include no eating at the reception desk, no profanity, etc. It would also include standards about keeping their station and all common areas clean. It cannot include any “chores.” Such as cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing floors, etc.

    Whatever you do, make sure that the lawyer that drafts the lease KNOWS the difference between a renter and an employee and the rules you need to abide by when writing the lease. No non-competes. No “schedules.” No “employee handbook” type guidelines. You are a landlord. They are a tenant running their own business. Don’t cross the line and make your role questionable to the IRS. Doing so would completely invalidate the lease and incriminate you for misclassification.

  44. Well, it sounds to me like the handbook didn’t specify whether or not you had to be compensated. Technically, you were working at another salon. You weren’t being compensated for it and your intentions weren’t malicious, but you did violate the terms of your employment at the salon.

    Honestly, if I were the owner, I wouldn’t have fired you. I understand why she did, but if you explained the situation to her the way you did to me, anyone with common sense can see that you would have made out better financially at the salon than at your mother-in-law’s. You wouldn’t have brought clients there. I fully believe that and the owner should have too.

    Then again, she wrote the policies for a reason. If the other employees know that you’re violating it and the owner isn’t enforcing it, they’ll expect the same treatment. She did it to make an example and to deter other staff members from violating the agreement.

  45. Hi Tina! First off,I want to thank you for all of the information that you provide in your articles for us salon professionals, and also for taking the time to comment on our questions.

    I hope I’m not asking a question that had already been answered…I tried to read through before hand. My question is this: I have been working in a salon as a commissioned employee (I receive a w2) for the last 4 years (We’re in CO.) Every month, we have “mandatory” staff meetings. They are during normal business hours that we would be seeing guests, so the salon is “closed” and our books are marked off. We are required to attend, but are not compensated for these meetings. Should we be receiving compensation? We are required to clock in for them.

    Another question is about our tips. All credit card tips are held and put on our paychecks. In our handbook it states that 10% of our tips are deducted from our paychecks and distributed to the front desk staff. Is this ok?

    Lastly, I’m actually leaving this salon next week. I plan to give my written 2 week notice, but since I’ve worked there for 4 years, I know that I’ll be told to leave immediately (which is fine.) I’m going to booth rent and the owner is great. I believe that she is well educated in the aspects of running her business (a booth rental salon) but I have one question for you. I am not allowed to retail my own product. After reading your articles, I understand why some salons prohibit you from retailing the lines that they sell, but is it right that I cannot retail anything at all?

    I really appreciate your response to these questions. Thank you for all that you do! Take care.

  46. If you’re clocked in and being expected to work, you need to be getting compensated somehow.
    You can read more about that here:

    It’s illegal for your tips to be directed towards cost-of-doing-business expenses (or any expenses that aren’t forced on the owner by a court order or those you don’t approve of in writing), and a receptionist is a business expense that the owner is responsible for.

    Colorado law states two things regarding tip sharing and tip claims:
    1.) “According to Colorado wage law, employers may require employees to share or allocate tips and gratuities on a pre-established basis with other employees. Under Wage Order 30, if the employer requires tipped employees to share their tips with other employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips (such as management or food preparers), the tip credit towards minimum wage is nullified.” This means that the owner is putting herself in a really shitty position since “Under Wage Order 30, employers of tipped employees must pay a cash wage of at least $4.98 per hour if they claim a tip credit against their minimum hourly wage obligation.” In your state, if an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cash wage of at least $4.98 per hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference in cash wages. It is the policy of the Division of Labor that this rule applies on a weekly basis. The employee’s tips combined with the employer’s $4.98 cash wage MUST equal the minimum hourly wage when computed over a seven-day workweek in order for the employer to avoid making up any difference. Without that tip credit, making that requirement is harder, but I have a feeling she either doesn’t realize she’s responsible for actually paying her staff a living wage or doesn’t give a shit.

    2.) “Colorado wage law allows for an employer to assert claim to, right of ownership in, or control over tips only if: the employer posts a printed card at least 12 inches by 15 inches in size with letters one-half inch high in a conspicuous location at the place of business. The card must contain a notice to the general public that all tips or gratuities given by the patron are not the property of the employee, but instead belong to the employer. If the employer does not post a printed card detailing tip ownership as described above, the employer may not exert any control over cash tips designated for an employee.”

    Anyways, here’s the link to the CDLE website with those laws outlined for you.

    As far as the retailing in the booth rental salon is concerned, there’s not much you can do about that since no laws specifically govern company policies that don’t affect wage or employee abuse. That policy can be viewed as a conflict of interest. It’s the same reason shopping center owners won’t rent to two similar businesses in the same complex. If you want to sell products and the owner won’t allow you to, there really isn’t anything that you can do about it but choose not to rent from her.

  47. i am a nail tech in minnesota I pay rent for my nail station I work every other week, I have 2 clients who come in every 3 weeks I have asked them to try either every 2 or every 4 th week to get them on the schedule with my other 2 wk clients. do I have to inform the salon owner of my change seeing she will not be receiving rent for that day that I am eliminating. p.s . she charges me 1/2 of what I make for that one day do you know what the going rate is for a renter as a nail tech in mn?

  48. I don’t know what the going rate in MN is but I can tell you right now that your current arrangement is not legal. 50% is too much to be asking for rent. You are getting screwed. 15% of what you make goes to the IRS for being self-employed. 5.45% of your total income goes to MN for income tax. After product,license renewal fees, professional liability insurance, and gas…you are probably not making much at all. Get the hell out of there. The owner needs to be charging you a flat rate. Period. Not taking half your income.

  49. Yes I know I’m getting screwed but I can’t leave and expect my clients to follow so I’m stuck… another question for you she charges me 140 for the week I only work 3 days a week am I getting screwed with this too having to pay for the days I’m not there?. she also tells us what we cannot wear( jeans )we also are given a job to do at the end of our day before we can leave the shop, she used to have a cleaning person who came it but it cost her too much. we have no receptionist and she requires us to get up leave our client to answer the phone it is a big issue with us who rent there. she says she would hire a receptionist but then she would have to raise our rent to cover it.

  50. She can charge you a weekly rate regardless of whether or not you’re present on those days. You set your hours, but if you’re not there that space is still being reserved for you so you have to pay for it. She absolutely CAN NOT tell you what to wear or assign you chores. Those chores are her responsibility. As for the receptionist issue, you shouldn’t be using one at all. As renters, you need to be managing your clientele yourself since you own your own businesses. This means they need to call your cell phone, text your, email you, leave messages, or send smoke signals. They can’t be calling the main salon phone number and they really shouldn’t be since that gives the owner the ability to take their information and poach your clientele from you if you leave.

  51. Hello I have a few questions that I would love some clarification on. 1. I work commission 60% and its been that was for the 8years I’ve worked here and just last week the owner said she has to change it to 50% because she has to get caught up with shop rent. No notice and made it effective that she week and she also takes 10% of the tips. I get a 1099. Just wondering if that is right. We have no written contract. I also have to work scheduled days and hours.

  52. I am a booth renter in Texas and just received business a Personal Property Annual Rendition of Taxable property from the county appraisal district. Do we really have to fill this out? I do own my blow-dryer scissors and general equipment. However the station belongs to the owner. Seems like this something the owner should have to do. We all received this same letter. Thanks in advance.

  53. As a booth renter, you are a business owner. So yeah, you do have to fill out the rendition. It should be easy for you though, since you don’t have much to report, lol.

  54. My spouse is a booth renter at a salon and the owner just started a “mandatory Saturday” where she has to open and close the salon regardless of whether or nor she’s booked appointments. I said that’s illegal, am I right? It’s in indiana if that makes a difference.

  55. Hello! I have been reading all of the comments trying to find something to relate to my situtaion!
    Here it is! I am a booth renter and recently the salon owner told me I could not take walk-ins anymore. My “contract” is signed for a year but the contract doesnt say i cant take walk-ins so does that make it ‘void’ until she made a new one? I dont plan to stay here much longer since i wouldnt be able to afford the rent withhout walk-ins as it is a new salon with no much established clientele. So can I leave without consequences?
    Also the “contract” doesnt even have her signature just mine and very basic things on it. She is so new to the beauty industry (2-3 years) and first time salon owner. So does the contract even matter? or is it just a piece of paper now?

  56. Unfortunately, the owner doesn’t owe you walk ins. You should have been able to carry the rent without her contribution to your clientele. Her refusal to feed you business doesn’t affect the lease at all, so it isn’t invalid now that she has decided not to give them to you. As a renter, you’re a business owner. Whether or not the salon had an established clientele is irrelevant. The contract is a lease, in which you agreed to pay a set amount in exchange for a place to conduct your business. It is still very much valid, regardless of how inexperienced the owner is. If you want to get out of it, you can provide her with written, 30 day notice that you’re leaving. If you have a decent relationship with her, she might let you go without penalty.

    Seriously though, if you didn’t have a solid book, you shouldn’t have rented for exactly this reason. You can’t rely on your landlord (which is exactly what the owner is) to provide you with enough business to sustain your rent. You’re not the only person that has been put into this position, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Booth rental can be confusing, especially in a blended salon. A lot of renters don’t really understand what a salon owner’s role is in the booth rental arrangement. Here are some posts that help clarify it:

  57. I definitely didnt have solid book this is my first place working out of beauty school and she offered me time to build clientele and then didnt give me notice that she wouldnt let me anymore. I know she doesnt have to let me but now i need to find a place i can afford and along with my clients i do have.
    I would like to know some more about the contracts and what makes them legitimate. The contract doesnt have set amount and it doesnt have her signature so i just want to know for future situations what a contract or lease shoukd include and if it is not followed what the penalties are.

  58. Oh hun, that happens all the time. Don’t feel bad at all. A lot of new graduates get taken in by salon owners that rent out booths who make them a whole bunch of promises about how “booth renting is so much better than being an employee.” For established professional, booth renting can be a whole lot better than employment, but for new graduates, it absolutely blows. You should look for a job in a salon as an employee while you build up your book and make a name for yourself.

    The lease absolutely needed to have a set amount. Her signature isn’t really necessary since she’s the one that wrote it and it most likely has her letterhead on it. Since she set the terms, it stands to reason that she agreed to abide by them. Here are all the posts I’ve written about contracts:

    When you’re looking over a lease, you’re looking for these things:
    1.) a set amount of rent to be paid.
    2.) early termination clauses (what happens if you terminate early and what is expected of you if you want to terminate early)
    3.) any clauses that seem shady or suspect (if the owner is trying to give you “rules” or dictate how you are to do business, it’s not good…don’t sign it).

    Here are some other posts that might help you as you look for another place to go:

  59. Any time! If you ever have any questions or concerns about anywhere you go in the future, whether you rent or decide to become an employee, email me and I’ll do what I can to help!

  60. Hi! I commented with a few questions about a month ago on my job situation. (Treated as employee; paid as an IC) I ended up quitting the job and now I’m wondering if I should report this couple and their “business” to the labor board. I really feel as though there’s a lot of shady stuff going on there.. For example: selling counterfeit flat irons, lying to every customer- saying they’re not owners and also having all their city displayed paperwork with tape covering certain details. Please give me your opinion! Thanks! Carrie

  61. Hello Tina, I am a independent stylist renting a booth $50 per day. I schedule my clients Thursday and Saturday. If I have no clients say on Saturday and I do not rent the chair that day, my spa owner wants me to pay for that day even though no services we ever rendered.

  62. That sounds super shady. I would report it. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to worry about, but chances are that if they’re lying and withholding information–things aren’t right.

  63. If you’re renting the booth for those specific days and the owner is holding your booth for you for those specific days, you have to pay for them regardless of whether or not anybody books. It’s the same thing where I run my business. Even if my business is closed, I still have to pay for the space since I am reserving it.

  64. If you are an employee and never signed a contract can an owner make you sign a contract later on saying that if you call out of work you are responsible to pay the owner back for the clients they had to reschedule?

  65. The owner can have you sign a contract after the fact, but those terms are ridiculous. Don’t sign it. I’m fairly certain it isn’t legal to penalize your employees for being sick, but as far as I know there are no specific statutes out there that prohibit it outright because most people aren’t stupid enough or rude enough to try and pull something so unethical and inappropriate. That’s poor business policy and piss poor management. An owner that treats her staff like that doesn’t deserve to have staff at all. People get sick. It happens. She absolutely should not be profiting off of that. Tell her that she desperately needs to take some business management classes and get familiar with employment law before she learns some lessons the hard way.

  66. Hi, I just left a salon chain where i was classified as ic, but not treated so. We get paid 40%, give money for back bar, are expected to work all day, told we were not employees so we couldn’t take a lunch had to eat in between clients, expected to do clean ups, and told corporate was watching us on the camera. What I need to know is who do I report them to? I’m in Ohio and their corporate offices are in Michigan, with other locations in 5 states.

  67. Holy crap! yeah, they definitely need to be reported. First, you need to file an SS8 with the IRS. File a complaint with the DOL ( and contact your local labor board (
    Ohio Department of Commerce
    Division of Labor and Worker Safety
    Wage and Hour Bureau
    50 West Broad Street
    Columbus, OH 43215
    Phone: (614) 644-2239
    E-Mail: [email protected]
    Web Address:

    Once you’ve done that, contact the Ohio attorney general ASAP.

    You also need to contact the Michigan labor department and file a complaint there.
    Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth
    Wage & Hour Division
    7150 Harris Drive, Box 30476
    Lansing, MI 48909-7976
    Phone: (517) 322-1825
    Web Address:,1607,7-154-27673—,00.html

    And contact their attorney general as well:

    Tell them all about the work conditions, the illegal classification, and the clear violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That employer needs to be shut down immediately.

  68. Hi Tina. Thank you for the great info you provide on this site. It is much appreciated. I read the above article pretty closely and don’t think this specific issue was addressed: I understand that is it unethical and illegal for an employee to solicit former clients that belong to the salon but is there a distinction between an employee and and an independent contractor doing so? Also, does it matter if I was fired or voluntary quit? Finally, does it matter that many of these clients have been coming to the salon long before the current owner purchased the place? Thank you!

  69. This article actually doesn’t address non-solicitation clauses since that’s an entirely different issue altogether. It actually is NOT illegal for an ex-employee to solicit former clients *unless* that employee signed a non-solicitation agreement. Every owner needs to have one. They are crucial to protecting your salon’s clientele. It doesn’t matter if they’re employees or independent contractors. Independent contractors can never sign non-competes (since it’s directly counter to their classification) but they can be required to sign non-solicitations.

    The problem with taking clients from a recently purchased business is that the new owner presumably paid for that clientele, so a lawsuit could be filed based on that theft. However, that owner really should have prepared in advance of the purchase and ensured that the clientele were protected from poaching before the sale was made. Anyways, I have more articles on contracts specifically below:

  70. Thank you for the reply. It was very helpful. I don’t understand how taking a client is ‘theft.’ We live in a free enterprise that encourages competition. Barring any contract or improper means of solicitation, I don’t see how the owner would have any right to sue a former employer (or contractor) for contacting clients. Thank you again.

  71. Yeah, I’m not entirely sure they would win, but they certainly would have the ability to try. Whether or not they would come out on top in that situation is really a toss up.

  72. Hi Tina,
    I stumbled across this post, due to my own work conflicts. I want to see if I’m being paranoid/unreasonable or if I’m actually being screwed over. I work in a salon in Florida, and am a paid employee. When I was hired in December of this past year, I was still in cosmetology school, about two weeks away from graduating. I was hired on as the receptionist and assistant, making $9.00 an hour and guaranteed at least 20 hours a week. The women I work with can be kind of catty and rather rude sometimes, but I usually just brush it off. I do a lot at my job, literally everything. There is almost never a slow moment when I have time to take a mini breather or sit down. I finally got my license a little over a month ago now, and around that time is when we hired a “backup” receptionist, who is also licensed recently. I have been told by many professional stylists that the quality of work that I put out is very impressive for my age, and that I will go very far in this industry. That being said, I feel like these women I work with are never satisfiable. Granted, I know I have a lot to learn and am still assisting/learning new things, but don’t fix something that’s not broken right ? I will take “model” friends and family, or even walk in clients sometimes. She has told me that she will either pay me my hourly, or 50% commission with our bi-weekly checks, whichever is greater. I have done a lot of highlight/balayage/ombre work since I have been there, and everyone says they love their hair and are so happy, but these women always find things to nit pick me about. They want me to change my technique in how I apply, but I don’t like how their services always turn out.. Do I have to listen to them, even if I know the way I do things now is correct ? I’ve assisted other talented stylists before, and feel I have learned from some very great people in the area. I like the quality of work I put out, so do my clients. Also, if we get groupon clients, these women will tell me just to rush it, and basically give someone a crap color or cut, because they are getting such a “deal” anyways. They want me to rush service people, and I don’t think that is right or fair. Everyone should be treated the same, no matter how much they are paying for their hair. I am also the only makeup artist there, and we recently did a wedding. I did two makeups priced at $65, and hair priced at $60, and all she gave me was tip money because I got paid my hourly.. it seems like she is not giving me whichever is greater for the day (commission or hourly), rather quite the opposite. All she cares about is money.

    part 2 coming

  73. I know i’ve been ranting on, I guess I just feel as though I do a lot, and am not treated the right way. I can take constructive criticism, but don’t like constantly being undermined. She complains about paying someone who “doesn’t bring money in”, but pays two people (myself and the other receptionist) to do the same job, except the other girl doesn’t do anything all day but sit at the desk while I am busy. I usually end up cleaning up after her all day after I have taken my own clients. She complains about her, and how she should just get rid of her, but she doesn’t do anything. I just feel extremely under compensated for everything I do throughout the day, and feel as though they look down on me as a person and I am the brunt of all of their jokes. I don’t know what I should do. Is this wrong ? Or is this just the salon world ? Do I stay and hope things get better, or find another salon that might actually treat me fairly, and compensate me for what I feel I am worth ?

    There are probably a lot of holes in my story, I am writing this as quickly as I can manage.. it’s just been eating away at me. I love what I do, I have a fierce passion about this industry. But I don’t like waking up and dreading going into work either.. I used to love going there. I have given up a lot to work at this salon.. sometimes I just feel like it isn’t worth it.

    Thank you.

    This was a continued post

  74. To me it sounds like you already know your answer. You’re clearly not happy there. On one hand, the harsh, constant criticism can temper you and make you a stronger professional, but on the other, it seems to me as if the criticism is a manifestation of your coworkers’ jealousy. They want you to do things their way, but the method by which you achieve results shouldn’t matter if the results are satisfactory (which they clearly are if your clients are happy and returning).

    As far as pay is concerned, you should keep very careful track of your services and hours worked and compare the two at the end of every pay period. It’s a pain in the ass, but if your boss is shorting you, she’s not worth working for. Never work for a thief. Someone that is willing to steal from you does not have any integrity. That person doesn’t deserve your loyalty or your talents.

    These women are fools if they’re advising you to “rush” anything. Groupon or not, you’re right, they all deserve to experience the same level of service you would give to them if they were paying full price. That is what turns a Groupon client into a regular. (It hardly ever happens since Groupon women are parasites and dealseekers, but it can–especially for a hairdresser. Good stylists and colorists are very difficult to find.) Groupons are what I call, “total losses.” They will never bring the salon profit. What they will do is get asses into chairs so clients can see and experience the salon. The only time you see a return on a Groupon is if you can get the clients to rebook and return. Essentially, you are working for free for the opportunity to expose yourself and potentially gain business. To “rush” clients would be a huge mistake. What you end up with when you half-ass Groupon clients is a SHIT TON of negative reviews and a whole legion of people badmouthing your name and the salon you work in. If these women are rushing, your boss needs to correct that immediately or the damage done will be irreversible.

    You’ve got sense though, so you already know better than to take that bullshit advice from those women. When those clients leave your chair, they leave with your signature on their head…whether they paid $15 or $500, it’s your name they’ll speak when others ask who they went to. Your reputation is worth more than the money you would have made with a quick turnover.

    My advice to you, if you really want to stay, is to talk with your owner privately and explain your aggravation with your coworkers. Bring up the fact that they’re trying to get you to change your technique. You earned your license…and recently. If anyone knows the newest and most efficient ways to do things, it’s you. Explain that you want detailed pay stubs, outlining your total service and retail sales and your hourly compensation. Explain that you’ll be tracking it yourself as well to ensure that your checks aren’t shorted. Nothing will change if you don’t bring up your problems and demand that they be corrected. Worst case scenario: you lose your job. From the sounds of things, you might not be considering it a huge loss at this point, lol. Nobody deserves to be unhappy or disrespected at their workplace. You might be newly licensed, but those women are no better than you and certainly don’t have any right to treat you like some kind of peon. That behavior is immature and unprofessional. It’s pathetic and screams of insecurity. They need to grow up and work together as a team. They should be supporting and uplifting you, not berating you and cutting you down. Your boss should be stepping in and managing them, but it seems as if her management skills are either nonexistent or need some serious improvement. In this case, it’s up to you to be the voice of reason and stand up for yourself.

  75. i am a salon owner and i need to remove a chair rental from the salon, He is loud and annoys other clients therfore causing us to loose clients,
    he is not on a contract in any written way.
    where do i stand in asking him to leave

  76. Even though he doesn’t have a written lease, you’ve been accepting money in exchange for space, so that constitutes a common law lease. All the same rules apply to a common law verbal lease that apply to a written lease. You’ll have to serve him a formal, written eviction notice, giving him 30 days to vacate the property. If he asks you why he’s being evicted, you don’t have to tell him (but you probably should so that he can learn from the experience and hopefully not repeat his behavior in his next place of employment).

  77. Thank you for your response. The only issue is that the salon owner is the stylist that is nit picking me, she wants me to be a mini me of her. But I have seen clients of hers leave with their hair not as expected. I don’t want to follow her techniques, because her “ideas” of these color techniques are 100% wrong. The other stylists compliment my work all the time, she’s the only one with the issue. I just don’t understand why. Color is definitely my passion, I don’t want to start changing things I already feel I comprehend, although I would still like to learn more. I’m planning on talking to her tomorrow, but am keeping backup salons in mind. I definitely don’t want to burn bridges, but have to watch out for me also. It just sucks giving 100%, and getting negativity in return when everyone else is happy. They aren’t very nice people anyways though.. So you are right. It wouldn’t be a huge loss. I’ve just never been a quitter, and would hate to start now. Then again, I’ve been told I don’t exactly “fit in” anyways. Square peg, round hole. You are amazing for giving advice, you help people like me tremendously. I just needed another opinion so that nagging voice in my head could tell me it’s not just me

  78. Hi, need some advice if possible. I am considered a “junior stylist” at the salon I work in. Tuesdays-Thursdays I get paid hourly on top of a reduced commission. Friday and Saturday I work 100% on commission. My question is, the salon owner constantly tells me that because I am a junior stylist I have to stay until the salon closes on Fridays and Saturdays “in case of walk-ins or something.” However, I am not usually busy and am often left sitting there twiddling my thumbs (sometimes I help out at the front desk FOR FREE). Can she legally make me stay on Fridays and Saturdays if I don’t have any clients scheduled and she isn’t paying m?

  79. Well, that depends. If at the end of your pay period, you are making equal to or above minimum wage for the hours you’ve worked, you can be required to remain at work. However, if your commission does NOT equal or exceed minimum wage when calculated against the hours you’ve put in, it is a violation of the FLSA and illegal. So, whether or not it’s legal can actually vary from pay period to pay period.

  80. It’s equated to the lease arrangements at shopping malls. The stores within the mall can operate any time during the mall’s operating hours, but not outside of them since the mall is shut down and locked up at closing time. So, the salon’s hours of operation should be listed in the lease. You can work at your discretion within them.

  81. i was working at a salon called stylin katts salon in glendale for like 7 months and was getting pay 6.50 an hour . i wasnt making any more so i decided that i was going to move back to connecticut .so i gave my boss kathe anderson my 2 weeks notice after i gave my 2 weeks notice she stop talking to me at work and was giving me the cold shoulders and after a week went by i couldnt work in that environment where i felt uncomfortable being there so i told her march 26 was my last day and to mail my check .and she was like okay. well i got a letter stating that she wasnt going to pay me for the hours i have worked because i broked my contract but i never received a copy of this contract nor did i know i have signed a contract cause when i got hire she didnt go over the paper and was like if you break the contract i dont have to pay i never heard anything like that. and i need this check to pay for my bills.

  82. That is wage theft. Regardless of what her “contract” stipulates it is illegal to refuse to pay someone for work performed. She was required by California law to comply with the Wage Theft Protection Act. This means that she should have provided you with a form detailing your rate of pay and the frequency with which you receive your paychecks. It is not legal to withhold pay in California for any reason (other than court mandated child support deductions). You need to contact the California Department of Industrial Relations and make a wage claim.

    Here is the link:

  83. I was wondering if the rental of a chair is a salon should be taxed. My mother currently rents and recently mentioned the fee plus tax that she pays. I thought that taxes couldn’t be charged because she isn’t buying a good.

  84. I have never heard of taxes being charged on rental fees of any kind, but every state has different laws and some of them are a bit wonky. I would check with your state’s landlord/tenant laws and see if there is some kind of tax charged on sublet spaces. It doesn’t sound likely, but it’s entirely possible.

  85. I am an independent contractor. The barbershop owner has us pay a $26/day chair fee and takes 50% of what we make. We must sell the products the store provides. From what I’ve been reading above this sounds like this might be more than just questionable. Is there a violation happening?

  86. At the very least, it’s a questionable arrangement at best. Paying a daily rental plus profit-sharing is very inappropriate and certainly doesn’t work out for you at all, particularly if you’re being expected to buy your own products. You’re responsible for paying your own employment tax, so you’re really only making 35% of your service sales…minus your $26 a day for chair rental. Paying a share of profits in lieu of rent is only permissible under very specific, carefully outlined contract terms. At best, it is very shady. I wouldn’t be able to tell you if it was outright illegal unless I had more information. For example, are you expected to work a schedule? Do your clients pay at a front reception area? Does the shop book your appointments or do you manage your own book? The fact that you’re required to sell the products the store provides is certainly not legal, as it goes directly against what an “independent contractor” is…independent. You can’t be required to meet quotas or sales objectives and you certainly can’t be limited in or restricted in any way.

  87. Thank you Tina, I was not expecting such a prompt reply, it is most appreciated!! (I am the immediate above question, “$26/day”)
    To answer your questions:
    1. I do not buy my own products but am not allowed to sell other than what we offer.
    2. I am expected to work an assigned set schedule.
    3. My clients pay at front reception who handles all $$ and booking. They handle phone calls, online booking, etc. (they are very appreciated: ))
    4. We do not have sales quotas

    As a learning tool this location has been invaluable. Our reputation is very high in the Portland area and to use this as a stepping stone, the shady pay becomes all-the-more worth while. I am mostly concerned about the legality of this operation for what aspects I will carry over to my own upcoming endeavor and for the rights of my fellow barbers.

    Thanks again!

  88. Alright, there are alllll kinds of things wrong with that arrangement. The owner can’t decide if you’re renters, employees, or independent contractors. It’s a mess and it’s an invitation for audit. Definitely NOT legal. Booth renters are given a space in exchange for a fixed amount. No backbar, no reception services, no walk-ins if the owner doesn’t want to give them out. They run their own business entirely. That means they set their own schedules and their own prices. They do their own thing. Independent contractors don’t belong in our industry at all unless we’re talking about the plumber that removes the hair clogs from our drains. Employees follow orders, work schedules, and have taxes taken out of their checks. They don’t pay for backbar or supplies or rent.

    What you have going on there is a complete mess, lol.

  89. Ha! I figured as much – I just didn’t realize it was such a complete mess, Tina. It’s no wonder their business has grown so immense so quick with how much they’re taking from us.

    In your opinion would a system such as this leave the owners prone to lawsuit?
    (I’m not one to sue but I’d be happy to quietly report them before I quit)

    Ans as an individual who is in the process of opening his own barbershop in the coming months, is there a particular pay structure that stands out among the rest as a completely fair system? I see many places offering minimum wage (or thereabouts) or 50% which ever is greater and 15% commission. If that’s the standard then I feel it might be on the low side of what is tolerable for employees. I wish to raise the standard within my future shop if possible.

    This conversation has been much appreciated!

  90. Ok here goes my story its a sad one and I really need some advice. In October of 2012 I was working at a vietamse nail salon when my old nail technology teacher called because a local beauty salon needed help. I went to the salon an the lady informed me that she needed a nail tech to do do gel polish because her existing booth rental tech only does acrylics. I decided not to take the job because hef salon needed remodeling and I had hopes of my own salon in the future because there wasnt a American owned nail salon in the area. To my surprise she called me back later that week an offered to open up a salon and I could be the manager, she got a loan and a building and asked me to come up with every operating procedure, hours of work and employee protocols because she has no knowledge of running a nail salon. So I did all of those things and my compensation was to be % 50 commission on services and pay as a manager (to be determined) and a portion of a profit when one was reached. Sooo fast forward we open up Marchn19th 2013 and I cant believe all my dreames have come true I have been given a salon and I hire two employees and the are getting paid % 50 commission and she buys the product. I never get any manager pay each week im waiting for something but it never comes. I run the salon from the moment the doors open in the morning until they close adhere to all state board guidelines and all of the hours and procedures that she had me come up with and any other common sense laws regarding my employees. She handled all the payroll and had control of advertising and reordering products when we needed more. My money for being a manager never came and I have lived on $200 or less dollars a week for a year because I had all these clients that depended on me and two 20yr old employees that looked up to me and I couldn’t let them down and I didn’t know how to ask for my money because I was afraid she would fire me….then what? Where would I go ? What about my clients? I feel soo stupid but I tried to make it work. I quit today because I cant take it anymore I make more child support thatn the measly $800 dollars a month from my paycheck. I asked her for compensation today for my management position and she informed me that the % 50 commission that I got and only got when performing a service was for being a manager and for service work! But how can that be when my employees got the same commission and only had to do services and not manage anything or anyone. Help I livein the state of Alabama, what are my rights. My email is [email protected].

  91. Unfortunately, unless you had some kind of written agreement to prove that there was a promise of more income, there probably isn’t much you can do. That being said, I think it is very likely that she wasn’t in compliance with the FLSA (which dictates that your commissions need to equal or exceed the minimum wage for each hour you work). I doubt very much she was auditing your hours against your commission. You should either find an attorney that specializes in labor/employment law or file a report with your labor department or attorney general’s office.

  92. I am an attorney. My client was renting a booth from a friend for $75 a week. They got in an argument and the friend “fired” my client, changed the locks, and would not allow my client to return to get her possessions. She even tried to bring the police with her to get her stuff, but the friend would not allow anyone in. So, one night she entered in there herself and got her own belongings. She’s now charged with burglary. I’m trying to prove that, as a booth renter, she was not allowed to be fired or removed without proper notice, and that her belongings were essentially stolen through conversion when the owner would not allow her to enter. I’ve seen where you listed what is legal and illegal, but there is no actual law attached. Could you point me in the direction where you got your info to determine whether this is legal or not?

  93. Prepare for this to be a long post. Seriously, get yourself a cup of coffee or something and settle in, lol.

    Commercial law varies by state (but generally not by much). The majority of states have adopted and altered the federal residential landlord-tenant laws (the URLTA and/or the Model Residential Landlord-Tenant Code) to be applicable to commercial leases. That’s what these guidelines are based on.

    However, assuming you’re the Karyn Boothe I found thorough my complicated investigation procedures (…I Googled you, lol), you’re in Georgia. And that complicates things a little.

    GA is one of the few states that not only permits commercial lockouts, but allows the landlord to sell the tenant’s commercial property to make up for arrears in rent if the lease allows for that remedy. In most states (even in the event of a delinquency), landlords are required to serve a notice with the full amount due, file a proof of service, then file for the actual eviction, give them time to contest the eviction, have the case heard, and *then* commit the lockout. Even then, they generally aren’t permitted to claim property; a judgement has to be placed against the tenant for the amount due.

    Here’s the thing, though. The GA statutes *only* allow for a lockout in a situation where the tenant has committed a breach and it sounds as if they can only do so if specifically outlined in the lease. (“The lease must state that, in the event of a breach, the landlord may reenter and take possession of the premises without recourse to the Georgia summary eviction statute [Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-50 et seq.].”

    Since they were “friends” I’m doubting that they had a written lease in place. If they did, I doubt very much that it was professionally written and that it contains a lockout clause. Based on my knowledge of this business and the extreme abuses committed against booth renters and “independent contractors” in salons by salon owners, I also doubt highly that the renter was being given all the freedoms owed to a self-employed individual under federal tax/labor laws. (I’d bet my left arm that the argument stemmed from a situation where the salon owner was overstepping her bounds as a landlord and attempting to act more as a manager, a role she has no right to play. The vast majority of renter/landlord disputes in a salon generally stem from these power struggles.)

    Landlords aren’t permitted to lockout tenants at will for whatever transgression they come up with. GA state law doesn’t give many protections to commercial tenants, but it wouldn’t make sense to give landlords the ability to wantonly boot business owners and sell off their inventory without notice and proof of contract breach. It really doesn’t sound as if the owner had the legal right to lock out the tenant in the first place, let alone claim ownership of her belongings in this situation.

    I’ve also read an article that states that in order for any commercial agreement (including leases) to be enforceable in GA, they must be in writing. Verbal leases are not enforceable. ( The owner may have a really difficult time explaining why she felt she had the right to lock out the tenant in the absence of a written lease since the statute doesn’t permit lockouts without a stipulation in a signed lease agreement. In the absence of that term in the contract, the landlord should be utilizing the statutory dispossessionary procedure.

    This is going to have to be continued in a second post since my own blog service won’t allow my comments to exceed the character limit.

  94. Proving that your client was a booth renter should be simple. However, the vast majority of salon owners do not have a single clue how to properly treat a booth renter. Misclassification is rampant in this industry. There’s a very good possibility that your client could make a case against the owner for overstepping the boundaries clearly defined by the IRS. Owners of booth rental salons tend not to understand that they are *not* salon owners. They are landlords. They have no right to manage or direct any of the renters that operate in their building.

    Another issue I see here is that no “burglary” was actually committed if the tenant didn’t steal anything that belonged to the owner. GA law (16-7-1) states that, “A person commits the offense of burglary when, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, he enters or remains within the dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another or enters or remains within any other building, railroad car, aircraft, or any room or any part thereof.”

    Whether or not she had authority is debatable since the lockout may or may not have been legal to begin with. I’m fairly certain the salon cannot be considered a “dwelling house” (unless it’s a home salon). And she didn’t enter with “intent to commit a felony or theft.” She entered with the intent of retrieving her belongings–the expensive tools and materials necessary for her to make a living. If she was paid up on her rent, the owner had no right to claim her property for reimbursement, so that property still legally belonged to the tenant.

    The landlord *might* be able to claim that the tenant committed a B&E or illegal trespass, but if none of her personal property was stolen and she didn’t have the right to retain the tenant’s property, no burglary actually happened, so she’s filing charges on false pretense. Even the B&E/illegal trespass would be hard to sell since she very well may not have had the right to commit the lockout initially, lol.

    I’m not an attorney, but the way I see it is this: the burden of proof is on the landlord to prove that
    a.) the tenant was in breach,
    b.) the lease stipulated that the landlord retained the right to utilize self-help to take possession of the property itself and the personal items contained therein, and
    c.) that an actual burglary was committed.

    I think the landlord is on shaky ground at best in this situation, but I haven’t seen the lease and my knowledge of GA commercial landlord-tenant law is fairly weak. I’m actually pretty shocked at how lacking it is in tenant protections. (You people actually have a law that allows blatantly unfair contracts and upholds them even when the stipulations are clearly unwise and not in the best interest of one of the parties…and a complete absence of laws that disallow common contractual abuses. That is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in all of the research I’ve done and makes GA a very scary state to be a salon professional in.)

    The most I can find on this are case-law situations where random precedents were set. (Rucker v Wynn being the only commercial case and Colonial Self Storage v Concord being slightly relevant.)

    I have a few attorneys in other states that I consult with regarding their commercial landord-tenant laws, but I don’t have a relationship with anyone in Georgia that I can call at this point. I would strongly recommend not only consulting with one, but also really discussing with your client what the relationship was between her and the landlord. A lot of renters (even veteran professionals) do not realize that they’ve been exploited the majority of their career. It’s very possible that she has not been treated properly and may have a case against the owner for labor abuses and tax evasion. At the very least, it might be something she can use to convince the landlord to drop the charges.

  95. Hi, Tina. I’m hoping you have some advice left in you for this.

    I am a former nail tech from the early 90’s. Unfortunately, within 2 years of getting licensed, I became allergic to the product and had to give it up. Fast forward 20+ years…my daughter obtains her cosmetologist license. She immediately starts in a salon as a booth renter. Within a month, one of the other stylists approaches her with a business proposition and tells her about the bad practices of the salon owner. So, my daughter decides to follow this gal and help her start her own salon; my daughter is a booth renter again. Keep in mind that both of these girls graduated H.S. together and live in a town of less than 15,000 people.

    So, my daughter spends many hours helping this gal open her salon; as did myself, my son-in-law and his grandfather. During the first month of opening, my daughter had medical issues; such that I took her away for a couple of weeks. When my daughter returned, she was given a “Three Days to Pay or Quit Notice” by the owner for failure to pay booth rent. During this time, my daughter kept the owner informed of the money issues she was having and the owner agreed – and tho I have harped on my daughter about getting everything in writing and keeping detailed notes, she didn’t – to other payment arrangements, verbally. The verbiage of the notice stated that my daughter needed to pay $480 within 3 days or her lease would be terminated. There was nothing in the lease agreement or notice that she would be responsible for the remainder of the lease. Now, my daughter was served with papers for small claims court, by the owner for $2,500 for “breach of contract” and a few other things. Court was today and we are awaiting judgement: can the owner terminate the lease agreement like that? Does it become a quit or termination when the verbiage is contradictory? We live in Idaho and my recent work history is in Human Resources, so I have some knowledge on this, but am stuck on where to find the rest. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  96. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about this to really help you. The laws regarding three day pay or quit notices vary by state. I don’t know what state you’re in. Whether or not the verbal agreement is sufficient to hold up in your state. You needed to speak with an attorney that specializes in commercial landlord-tenant law and you needed to do it the day you were served. You’re awaiting judgement. It’s late in the process to start looking for help now, but if you can find an attorney willing to do a free consult, I strongly suggest you do so immediately.

  97. Hello Tina, I was wondering if you could help me. I stay in the UK so i’m not sure if hairdressing legal rights are different over here but thought I would give it a shot by mailing you.
    Anyways recently i have left the salon that i worked in for 3 years. i am fully qualified now. Since i started in there 3 years ago i was on a 3 month trial to begin with and then my job was permanent and my training began. I was spoke to about getting a contract writting up and told we would sign it etc but one never came to light. I never asked i just assumed it would happen eventually. We then relocated last year and after a few months of being 4 days a week i got dropped down to 3 days a week and i was told when i qualified that they would not have a position in there salon for me as a stylist but didn’t want to let me go just yet. So i started looking for a new job and it turns out the job i applied for phoned me up for an interview and i got offered it the same day, and wanted me to start the next day. So as far as i had heard i didnt need to give any notice because there had never been a contract or any agreement of any sort. So that was fine but now they are trying to tell me i owe them £200 holiday pay because I have left in june and up until now i was only entitled to 7 days but have took 6 more days and have left half way through the year. ( My wage a week is £110 ). I don’t want to hand over the money because i am not totally sure i even owe them it because i have no contract with them. Can you please help me ?

  98. Do NOT hand over any money! In the UK, if a worker has taken more leave than they’re entitled to, their employer *must not* take money from their final pay unless it’s been agreed beforehand in writing. The rules in this situation should be outlined in the employment contract, company handbook or intranet site. Since you are not on a contract, you are under no obligation to pay them that money.

    Actually, in the UK, I’m pretty sure every worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks of Vacation Pay. Check it out here:

  99. How do you legally let your clients know you are moving salons and would like them to follow? They were clients that were walk-ins at my current salon and are very loyal and would like to let them know where I will be going. I don’t want to be used for theft since they were not technically “my” clients I brought with me. Thanks!

  100. I don’t know if you signed a non-solicitation clause, but if you didn’t, you can’t be sued for soliciting the clients since you never agreed not to do so at the time you were hired.

    The best way to keep solicitation from being an issue at all is to have an online portfolio. I wrote a post on them here:

    If you have an online portfolio that’s easy to find, you won’t have to solicit anyone. They’ll find you. You won’t be violating a contract even if one were in place.

    Here’s another post I wrote about informing clients that you’re moving:

  101. Are these laws universal for ALL states? I’m in Texas and I recently started at a salon and the owner is trying to tell me that I need to be there ALL day EVERY day. I feel as though she is wanting a “babysitter” for her salon so she can go and do as she pleases during the day. Which that is fine and dandy to me BUT she wants me to be there to answer the phone and WAIT for walk-ins. I have been there every day for two weeks and there has not a single walk-in nor a call for a random haircut/service. Now today, she trying to put chores for me to do and clean up after her or the other new girl. AND If I sell a product (she furnished) any profit off of it has to go into a “petty cash” for any up coming hair shows??? She is trying to tell me what product line I have to use on my clients.

  102. Yes. These laws are federal laws and therefore apply to all 50 states. If you’re classified as an independent contractor, you’re being exploited by an owner who is attempting to avoid her employment tax responsibility to you and the minimum wage/overtime pay requirements set forth by the FLSA.

  103. Hi, I work in a salon on commission, 70/30, I supply my own products and chemicals. I collect from my clients and pay the owner her 30% at the end of the week. I set my own schedule, book my own clients using my cell phone and process my own credit cards…etc. My question is, should I send her a 1099 at the end of the year? She says no.

  104. Yes. You absolutely should be. Technically, your arrangement is a booth rental. That 30% is your rent. You are paying her more than $600 a year, I assume, so you would certainly need to provide her with a 1099 so she can claim that rental income. You can also claim that money as a business expense on your own taxes.

  105. Technically, my “classification” is a booth renter. She gave me a very poorly written contract that she wants me to sign. In this contract it states that I MUST be there 24 hours a week. Is that legal?

  106. That’s a weird gray area. You’ll have to talk to an attorney that specializes in commercial landlord/tenant law in your state about that. My opinion (which doesn’t in any way reflect the law) is that she shouldn’t be concerned about whether or not you’re present as long as your rent is paid up. Requiring you to be present for some arbitrary amount of time is indicative that she wants to control the way you’re doing business. The IRS would not look kindly on this “requirement” of hers. Your only requirement should be that your rent is paid up on time. I would tell her this and would refuse to sign it.

  107. There are no state statutes or board regulations that require a booth renter in California to have a business license–however, it might be a good idea for you to get one anyways, even if you’re going to act as a sole-proprietor. It’ll help distinguish you from the salon, give you the ability to operate under a business name, open a business banking account, and build a web presence online separate from your personal one.

  108. Hi Tina I have been working as a booth rental in a salon in beverly hills for last 8 years. One of my coworker opened a salon and ask me to go and work at his salon i ask for a contract and he said we know each other forever and it isn’t important…and girl it has been the worse experience ever…he has forgot all his promises and coming up w new rules everyday..the first day he said i can have a key and i can come in and leave as i want which when it came down to it he gave me a wrong key and didn’t answer his phone till my bridal party left in tears and he acted it like nothing went wrong- he promised that his salon is a bumble & bumble which i have never received a product ever and for the back bar he refiles the old bottles w the cheapest shampoo and conditioner and of course the result of my job doesn’t come as good-he changes his opening hours as he is pleased and he tells me that his tired and doesn’t feel like staying open and i have to bring them to my house to finish the job-he locks the ac when he isn’t there and its 85′ inside and…. i got in an argument w him on sat nite cuz the first day he said he will have to assistant on the floor and cleaning lady which he has faired her cuz of his cheapness and when i simply asked her that whats the deal and y we don’t have help his answer was go get your own and by end of the day he told me from now on he wants $450 weekly instead of $250 and if i don’t pay on tues for starring week he will kick me out… and i received a call from his investor that they don’t like me there anymore and i must come and empty my cabinet and never go back…even tho i don’t wanna be there or see them I’m booked the whole week and i need a week or so to find a write place for myself…can he refuse letting me go to his salon and do clients??? is he alowed to kick me out this way even tho his hurting my business and hasn’t give me a written notice? plz help me I’m so worried about tomorrow

  109. There’s a possibility that you could try to sue him for damages in civil court, but whether or not it would be worth the aggravation or expense is debatable. Because you’re in CA, he was supposed to follow their commercial tenant eviction procedures, which you can find here:

    I’m sure you’re already looking, but my advice is to find a place ASAP for the short-term while you search for somewhere that suits you and your clientele for the long-term.

  110. Hi Tina! I’ve been licensed for 4 years, practiced in a salon for 1, took a 3 year break after my daughter was born prematurely (26 weeks), and have just recently started at a salon 3 years later. I will be signing an independent contractor agreement Tuesday, and just want to make sure I’m not making any mistakes. The owners salon is all booth renters, but because of my situation, working from the ground up, she is allowing me to work as an IC on commission. There were 2 options, 60/40 and supply my own color line and tools, or 40/60, use her color line and tools. Either way, she provides back bar, and other salon floor things such as dryers, wax, etc. I also will receive 10% on any products I sell to my clientele. I currently have NO clientele, and am working on getting my name out there. The contract is a 3 month contract. Upon the end of the contract I have the choice of parting ways, continuing my current IC contract, or switching to booth rent. Does this sound fair? All my clients will be checked out through the salon and I will be paid every following Tuesday after services rendered. Thanks!

  111. Personally, I would not move forward with this if I were you.

    1.) You have no clientele. That fact alone makes you a better candidate for employment vs independence.
    2.) I have seen these arrangements work out, but the profit share arrangement in lieu of rent is a BAD idea. I review audits of salons often and in all but one where the employer took a percentage as rent, the IRS ruled against the owner, determined the “IC” was actually an employee, and punished them accordingly.
    3.) No matter which way you cut that commission, you’re still making less than you would be as an employee. At 60%, after taxes you’re making 45%. If you have state taxes, you’re making less. Deduct product costs and it’s practically nothing. At 40%, you might as well be paying her to work there.
    5.) If you’re a renter, she doesn’t touch or handle your money in any way.
    6.) This situation leaves far too much open to conflict and will not benefit you at all.

    So yeah, I strongly advise looking elsewhere for work–as a W-2 employee. :/ I have seen professionals enter these agreements time and time again against my advice and have seen every one of them fail miserably. This arrangement is not a proper one and is shaky at best.

  112. Very interesting and informative stuff here…thanks! I’m thinking of taking over a booth rent salon, and this blog and its comments brought up a few questions. The salon currently has a renter who dresses like she works in a bordello, and another one that uses profanity endlessly. If I can’t require the booth renters to adhere to a dress code/code of conduct, how do I protect my salon from these kinds of unprofessional people? I want my salon to be family friendly…surely there’s something I can do!! Also, how can I keep the booth renters from bringing their kids to work with them? One has a baby that she brings with her every day. He cries incessantly, and she changes his rank diapers in the common area of the salon!! The other has a young child that is dropped off at the salon after school. She’s not a big problem, but she does interrupt the other stylists’ conversations with their customers, and generally gets in the way. Lastly, the current owner has a salon-owned credit card machine that all the renters use, then she cuts them each a check at the end of the week for their charges less 3%. Is this a legit business practice? Thanks for your input.

    1. It might be legit, but it certainly is NOT advisable and I wouldn’t continue that practice if I were you.

      As a booth rental owner, you have no control. I have several posts here. I highly advise reading the posts about why booth rental is a bad plan. There’s no way to really manage them and I strongly advise owners against the model. If you expect to have any control over all that drama, you need to make every one of those trainwrecks employees, lol. The booth rental model tends to attract professionals at opposite ends of the spectrum–you have the uber professional that are good enough to make it on their own without a boss, and the absolutely unemployable that have no other choice but to rent because no owner will put up with their shit.

      1. Wow, isn’t that something!! Okay, so if I have a proper lease, with a termination clause that lets me terminate the lease with 30 days’ notice (or whatever my state’s landlord/tenant laws require), then if a renter was “undesirable,” I could give them 30 days’ notice to vacate, at which point could I tell them WHY (your appearance, your behavior, your kids) and give them a chance to make some changes in order to be able to stay? Also, I’ve been reading the landlord/tenant laws and they are all written toward monthly tenants. It’s hard to give a tenant 5 days to pay their rent when it’s due every 7 days! Any thoughts here? (I know you don’t like booth rental, but it’s how I’m gonna go, if I go at all.)

        1. Well, first, I’d switch to monthly rent and require security deposits up-front from all renters. That way, if someone is late or has a rough month, you can say, “It’s cool, you have a month of security. Just be aware that your payment needs to be made ASAP and you need to catch up or else you’ll have to go.” Monthly rent also eliminates those renters who live hand-to-mouth and are more likely to default on payments.

          As for the termination/warning, that’s exactly how I would handle it too—termination clause extended both ways, either party can end the relationship for any reason with 30 day written notice. If they want to discuss staying, they can schedule a meeting and the two of you could work it out. I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all. Even residential tenants get booted for being loud, failing to upkeep the rental property, etc. So, it certainly isn’t unheard of to evict a tenant for their behavior or lack of professionalism. You just have to make sure that clause is in there and that you aren’t overstepping that landlord/tenant boundary.

  113. First off I’d like to say that I have been searching for all of this information for YEARS! So, thank you so much for doing the work for all of us, but more so making sense of the IRS and FLSA language. I was working at a “corporate” salon for 6 years where I thought I was being totally screwed and yes, to an extant I was. However, I left mostly because I was tired of being treated poorly and moved to a salon where just like everyone else agreed to start working as a 1099, at 50% with a set schedule (with flexibility), on a bi-weekly payroll where I do my own taxes, but have to pay for back bar, credit card transactions, health insurance, product and color, where she’d like for us to sell retail but won’t give commission on it. There was also a false promise of the volume of clients walking through the door, so not only am I making little to no money in SF (the most expensive city), but I am also sitting around wasting my life away with sometimes as few as 8 clients in a 4 day work week. It is evident that I am an IC being scammed. But my question is why would she have all of us get a business license and a business account? Is it so that we can have more flexibility with write-offs? The way it was sort of explained to me by my boss, which I haven’t seen you mention anywhere is that yes, I have to supply my own products etc, but I can write them and just about everything including health insurance, cell phone (bc it’s used for work) and even clothes off. Does this sound crazy? I am definitely leaving and I am not afraid to reporter to the IRS before I do, but I want to have a true understanding of everything and all of my rights and hers first. I am also in fear that by doing that I will be audited, is that a possibility? Thank you again!

    1. This is a fantastic question and I’m glad you asked because I recently addressed this on the blog’s Facebook page. The reason these owners require their so-called “IC’s” to get a business license is so they can attempt to prove that you were operating as your own business. However, what they aren’t realizing is that the business license alone isn’t sufficient to prove independence. The IRS considers 20 factors, so the fact that all the staff have business licenses means nothing in the end. In addition, the percentage split is ruled against in the vast majoroty of audits.

      As far as you being targeted for audit–don’t worry about it. You are incredibly unlikely to be. I have never heard of an employee getting audited as a result of filing an SS-8 against an owner.

      1. Thank you! That makes so much sense now! One more question. Do you happen to know about when a 1099 is supposed to be filled out and by whom? I don’t remember filling one out so I am assuming it is supposed to be something I receive from my boss at the end of the year…is this accurate?

        1. The owner would be the one required to provide you with a 1099 for all money they’ve paid you so that both of you can claim that income/expense on your taxes. They must have it to you by February 2, 2015, or she’s liable to be fined. Hope that helps! 🙂

          1. That does help greatly! Do you have any articles on write-offs? I tried searching it but I’m having a hard time finding anything. I am wondering as a hairstylist whether IC, employee or booth renter what we are actually allowed to write off in our taxes. Thank you for everything!

          2. I LOVE THIS! California truly is a spectacular state to be in specifically because of this reason. They provide tons of resources and those resources they provide are written in plain English. I’m going to write an entire post based on this. States give different weight to different factors, but the IRS needs to make a similar chart for federal factors. This is seriously one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen!

  114. Hi There! I was wondering how the front desk staff is classified. Can they be Independent Contractors or are they required to be W-2 employees? This would be considering they are hired only for front desk and assistant duties (laundry, cleaning, etc.) and they have a set amount of hours they are required to be there (such as opening to closing). Thanks!

  115. Hi, I am a booth renter at a salon. When I started working at the salon, the owner did not provide anti fatigue mats at each station. The salon has concrete floors. After a few months, I noticed that one of the other stylists had bought a mat, so I purchased one for myself because I was having hip, knee and back pain from standing on concrete all day. I didn’t know at the time that the salon owner doesn’t like mats because she thinks they are ugly. Once the other stylists told me that she didn’t like them, I informed the owner that I had purchased one for my station, and that I hoped it wouldn’t be a problem. She never replied to me.

    It’s now been almost a year since I bought my mat, and the trend carried through the salon and several other stylists have also purchased mats. Yesterday, the salon owner informed us that she hates the mats, she thinks they are ugly, and that if the mats ever have any footprints on them, she will give us warning first, and then the next time, we will receive a $20 fine.

    Is it legal for her to fine us? I have no problem keeping my mat clean, but can a salon owner impose a fine on her renters or commission stylists?

    1. Lol, this is insanity. She can try to impose a fine, but since this mat issue is unlikely to be clarified in your lease, she’ll have a hard time collecting that money. The proper way to handle this is to prohibit them in the lease, but seriously, you guys need those mats. I certainly wouldn’t rent somewhere that didn’t take my comfort and long-term safety seriously.

  116. Just curious. I work as a commision stylist in NC. My boss keeps changing our rules and contracts. And almost every meeting we are forced to sign these “new contracts”. One of the changes is, after working there 2 years you’re no longer allowed to take walk ins because they’ve hired too many people. A lot of us have regulars but we still depend on walk ins. We are in a military town where it is very hard to retain a clientele because ppl are always moving. If I didn’t need walk ins I’d be both rent. But she just up”d booth rent from 125 to 175 a week. And that is a lot for our area! Also she doesn’t pay us for meetings and they are never during work hours. Is that allowed? She also is forcing us to work for free outside salon hours on our days off for events she organizes..I love doing hair but I’m starting to feel taken advantage of. We’re constantly told were a dime a dozen. And God forbid we ask a queston they are very defensive and say things like ” if you don’t lIke it there’s the door”

    1. Oh my. Okay, let me handle this in a list.
      1.) You must be getting paid for all work you perform, at least minimum wage (state or federal, whichever is higher).
      2.) If you are being “engaged to wait” or present at the request of your employer (for meetings, training, etc), they are required to pay.
      3.) Why would any of you want to work for someone so clueless? She changes her employment terms frequently, is keeping walk-ins from you to justify overstaffing, and clearly doesn’t understand her legal responsibilities and limitations as an employer. In addition to that, she’s rude and defensive. People that operate ethically don’t have a reason to get nasty like that, which means she either has a superiority complex or she knows she’s doing something wrong. Either way, that translates to disrespect towards her staff. I’d tell her to stuff it and find an owner that knows what they’re doing.

  117. As a commissioned stylist can I legally be required to come in on my day off to do classes, meetings, and make “vision boards” without pay?

  118. I am a salon owner, my booth renter is moving and did not give any notice. She has paid her booth rent for Dec and now wants a pro rated part of the month back. Do I have to give it back to her? There is nothing in the month to month contract about leaving the salon or giving notice.

    1. I don’t think so. You’re under no obligation to prorate her rent if the contract doesn’t specifically say so. Most states don’t have laws in place to protect commercial tenants (they leave that up to contract lawyers to fight though). Since yours doesn’t promise prorated rent in the event of an early termination, you’re not obligated to offer it.

  119. Hello!

    I’m a stylist in Michigan. And I would like to say this blog inspired me to get out of the old salon I worked at and move on to a salon that is doing everything right!

    Anyways, someone just started working at the salon (as a booth renter) I used to work at.
    The owner wants her clients to pay at the desk and give her a paycheck the following week and deduct the booth rent out of the check.
    The owner said the more clients and more money she makes the booth rent will go up.
    She asked for her SSN.
    And she wants a “salon service fee” of $2 for each client. (Which she has to add on to her service fee)
    She didn’t sign a contract.
    It’s a lot more that’s going on in that salon which seems fishy. It doesn’t make sense to me.
    Any advice.

    Thank you!

    1. I would warn the owner that she’s far overstepping her bounds and is very likely to face serious federal penalties for doing so. I’d also inform her that what she’s doing is crazy unethical, backwards, and will drive away any professional with common sense. Basically, she’ll make a name for herself in that area as an inexperienced, exploitative owner. Eventually, her hiring pool will dry up as that reputation perpetuates. Obviously, I’d advise that renter (and basically everyone else I knew) not to ever work for that woman (which is exactly what they’re doing in that circumstance, even though they’re paying her rent money for the privilege). She’s an audit and civil suit waiting to happen.

  120. I am currently a booth renter. At the salon I rent at I have a spot where I perform nail and pedi services, in this particular area the roof is leaking, it is embarrassing and I’m afraid my supplies will be ruined. I gave relocated my things to a room that holds my body waxing and spray tanning supplies, I do pay extra for this private room. The owner does not want my nail stuff in this room because “she doesn’t like the empty nail space”… is this unfair and wrong to ask me to move back to a spot that leaks everytime it rains, when I’m utilizing another area that I pay for instead?

    1. Many states actually have statutes that protect tenants from these kinds of lapses in landlord responsibility. That roof is a hazard and needs to be repaired immediately. I would refuse to work in that room until it is repaired and I would demand that she pro-rate my rent to reflect the amount of time that room is unusable. In civil court, you would very likely win a judgement against her for this.

  121. I am on a 1099 at my shop. I work my own hours and come and go as I please. I get paid 50% of what I bring in. I am woundering how my taxes will work and if this is right. I have been booth rent before and had a 1099 but not worked for someone ang got one. I feel like if im just giving half of my money away help!!!

  122. Love the site…
    I have owned a salon for 20+ years with 6-8 workers. Always been commission at a rate of 58%. A few months ago I had a couple of people contact me that were interested in joining our salon, but wanted to booth rent. I researched it and decided to give it a try. Told my other employees up front, and thought the right thing would be to offer it to them also. The renters came on and are paying $175/week. Its been going great with no problems. Now I have a couple of employees that have decided they want to switch to booth rent also. Do I have to offer them the same rate? One of them I would be losing quite a bit off of their % compared to weekly rate. I know that I can deduct matched taxes, receptionist pay, products, etc. What is best way to go about this??

    1. Can you clarify what you mean about the deductions? The way I read it, it sounds as if you still plan to provide products and a receptionist to these renters, which I strongly advise against. Renters need to be handling their own taxes, booking, and products entirely. They should also be processing their own payments (hooray for saving on merchant services!).

      Something also tells me that you may not have run your numbers right, or that they’re leaning heavily in favor of others. This is by no means a negative statement, but I suspect you are one of those rare, overly generous salon owners. (A good deal of my consulting clients are also overly generous, which is why they have me balance their budget/overhead and restructure their compensation.) Anyways, I say this because a.) your commissions were absurdly high and b.) your rent is relatively low. I suspect that you’re not charging as much rent as you should be.

      Incidentally, this explains why your business has been well-staffed for so long. Generous owners aren’t easy to find, lol.

      As for the original question, it does suck to lose a productive employee to rental, but you’ll probably want to be honest with them and explain that rent prices will need to be adjusted to make up for the commission losses. In order for you to provide them with a place to conduct business (and give you financial incentive to continue operating that business), you’ll need to do better than breaking even. It’s not personal–it’s math. Present it respectfully. There’s more to that rental than paying the lease on the building. You have to cover insurance, utilities, and building/equipment repairs when necessary. If you choose to advertise for them, that’s another expense. Additionally, you want to contribute to the salon’s savings and make an income yourself. Those aren’t unreasonable expectations and if the renters are capable of putting themselves into your shoes, I’m sure they’ll understand where you’re coming from.

  123. Thank you for your quick response to my last inquiry… I have another… as a booth renter should your business cards reflect your own business or the salon? currently i have my own credit card machine (the square) which reflects my business not the salons, as well as my own business account, because I also teach nail skill education. Is it wise to have my business card reflect my business name or the salons logo/business name, with it obviously stating where my business is located?

    1. Always your own! I highly advise only promoting your own brand and *not* the space you’re located in. Most renters put their own business’ “feel” into their marketing materials but then state, “Located inside Salon X” right above the address.

  124. Hi have a question. Here is the back ground info first.i owned a salon for 18 year and had a renter that rented a chair for 2 days a week. When I decided to close shop we ended up working together at another shop. Well it closed after a couple of years. So the stylist that rented from me open her a shop up. Before I went to work with her she quoted me a rent amount. The week I was moving in it goes up 20 dollars. When I finally agree to it and move in the first week ther I’m told there is a kitty that I have to give to for shop supplies. I give in and I was told my rent would not go up unless her rent went up. Now at the same time she takes another renter that pays 35.00 less than I was a week.because she was older. The owner tells me. Well this weekend after 2 years she raises the older renters rent 40 a week and try to raise mine not much but still raised after saying she wouldn’t. Her reason was to get very ones rent the same… Do you think I was treated fair. The older renter has left and I am considering it.

    1. Well, she secured your lease under false pretenses to begin with when she quoted you one price and then boosted the price while you were moving in. That right there was really inappropriate and unfair. It would have been a deal-breaker for me. To then throw in additional fees for “shop supplies” is ridiculous. It’s not your job to supply the shop when you’re paying rent. If she wanted “shop supplies” covered, she should have increased the rent to accommodate those expenses.

      It wasn’t fair for her to charge the new renter less rent, but it’s her shop and that’s up to her. I wouldn’t have stayed at that point, though. If her rent hasn’t changed, and she promised that she wouldn’t raise it unless her rent was raised, she’s gone back on her word yet again. It’s not fair and she’s demonstrated that her promises are worthless.

      If you think you’d be better off moving, I wouldn’t disagree with you on that. I’d have been out much earlier had I been in your position. She’s made several promises that she has broken. She has lost credibility, and credibility is everything.

  125. Hello – my daughter is currently working at a salon on 50% commission w-4 employee. She brought around 30 clients from her previous salon & has been there for about 3 months. The salon does no advertising what so ever – NONE. She does not get paid hourly either & works t-s 10-7 every week. Some weeks are better than others of course. Yesterday the owner had her sign a doc stating that if she doesn’t fill her books up more in the next 30 days they are firing her & will sue her if she moves to another salon nearby or takes her clients that she had prior to working there. They have hardly no walk-in business so no new clients here & she is not allowed to market via social media to get more clients for herself. How on earth can she be expected to increase her clientelle with no marketing? Supposed to only use word of mouth & referrals. Needless to say, she is very stressed out & doesn’t know what to do. Any suggestions are welcome!

    1. Oh my lord. Well, the first thing she should have done was refuse to sign the document. Salon owners will often do just this–they will advertise a “job opportunity” that clearly states “must have clientele.” An established professional will take the “job” (which is not really a job at all since the salon owner doesn’t have the business to hire them to begin with, otherwise the “must have clientele” would be omitted in the ad). The salon owner will then require the professional to sign an agreement that keeps them from being able to solicit their own client base if they quit or are terminated. Then, the owner forces them out of the salon and steals their clientele for themselves. It’s a common scam and it happens a lot.

      My advice is for her to IMMEDIATELY create a portfolio website with her contact information, put the URL on her business cards, and start handing those cards out to her clients. This needs to be done ASAP. Like, yesterday. It takes time for search engines to crawl and index sites. Until this happens, her site will not show up in searches. She signed away her right to contact the clients, but her clients didn’t sign anything restricting their ability to hunt her down. Make it easy for them. If she needs help, I could put one together for her on Wix and train her on how to manage it. (I charge $!00 and it takes an hour or so via Skype.) If she’s tech-savvy, she should be able to do it herself. I have an article here with more information.

      Tell her I’m very sorry this happened to her. 🙁 I wrote a book that covers all kinds of content we don’t learn in school–specifically in regards to scams and illegal employment practices that are common in salons. It may help her in the future moving forward.

  126. I have a couple questions. I am a massage therapist and own Spa in Illinois. A couple years ago we put in a cosmetology station and the stylist rent it part time (3 days). After a month she decided to add another day so we increased her rent. Recently she has decided to drop a day but extend her hours on the 2 days that she works. The hours that she works at the spa are pretty much the same. I am questioning if her rent should be decreased. I am also wondering what the norm is for booth rent. Do you rent part time or should she pay for the full time rent because she is renting the station? I would appreciate any advise!

    1. Since that station is reserved for her, she needs to be paying a flat monthly fee, regardless of how often she’s in the space. Does the landlord of your building reduce your rent based on your operating hours? Probably not, because whether or not you’re there–that space is yours, all your stuff is in it, and it’s not like he can just take someone in off the street and let them use the space when you’re gone. For this renter, it’s the same situation. Unless you’re running a rental salon that allows people to rent at an hourly rate, she should probably be paying a flat fee. That being said, what works for you is what’s best. If that’s a daily rate, hourly rate, or compensation in the form of fried chicken toes–as long as it is agreeable, reasonable, and legal, any arrangement is completely fine.

          1. Thank you so much for the info! Thank God I found your page, this has been a real eye opener! I felt like I was being taken advantage of and now I know for sure I was!!

  127. Hello. I work in a commission only based salon in GA. The split is 50/50. The owner provides equipment, sets our pricing, told us to start wearing uniforms, wants us to perform jobs to her specific standard, and ask us to work walk-ins on certain days at certain times. Other than that I am by appointment only. We take payments on one square and turn them in to her at the end of the week. I am required to pay my own taxes and she asked us to provide her with our own insurance. I am classified as an IC and just wondering is this correct? Should I have to provide my own insurance? I do not work at any other salon due to of course a non-compete agreement. I feel like i’m getting the shaft. I know you’ve answered this maybe a million times just wondering if my situation is any different.

  128. I was a booth renter last year. I got a text from the lady I was renting from, she wanted my S.S. # and my address because she wanted to send me a 1099. I didn’t think I should be getting one. She claims that because she took credit card payments from my customers because mine was not working at the time and then wrote me a check I need to get a 1099. Some customers also paid with a gift card she wants to 1099 me for that as well. Even though see took a fee out before I was given a check. I just want to know what is right before I get the 1099 in the mail I never filled out any w9 and never gave her my ss# or address. . Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

    1. She’s legally compelled to provide a 1099 for any payments she has made to vendors or service providers in excess of $600 so you can claim that income (and she can deduct those expenses). Don’t worry, it’s legal and completely normal! 🙂

  129. I work in a salon where I rent a chair. I make my own schedule, set my own prices, and pay my own taxes and insurance. The owner of the salon thinks that it is necessary for there to be a dress code, along with having to clean the whole salon and taking my turn buying “other” things for the salon. Such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies, lemons for water etc. Some of the other things I don’t use so I feel like I should have to pay for those things. But it just causes a big riff if I don’t. Just wondering if she can do this? Since it isn’t “my salon” I just operate inside the salon? She also feels the need to give me unwanted advice about how to run my business and sometimes feels like she is belittling me. Feeling stuck and not sure what to do?

    1. None of that is appropriate. It puts her in a questionable gray area that would very likely land her into hot water. “Can” she do it? Sure. Would she get away with it if the IRS came knocking? Not likely. It might not be “your” building, but you’re leasing space and operating your business independently, so to a degree, it IS your salon. It makes more sense for her to include those expenses in the rent and be done with it. I’m not quite sure why anyone would prefer to nickle and dime renters. It seems like a pain in the ass and not worth the time.

      As for the unsolicited advice, I’d thank her for the offer, but you’re not interested in being told what to do–that’s why you rent. She probably thinks she’s being helpful. Make it clear that you’re not looking for help.

  130. Hi. I live in California and Im an employee ( W2) at a commission salon and currently they are telling us that we need to come in once a month for an hour before the salon opens for an unpaid meeting. Is this ok. Can they say it’s a mandatory meeting and make us come in at a time that is not in our schedule and not pay us since we don’t get paid hourly.

    My other question is, are they allowed to require us to stay our schedule hours even if we are not fully booked. For example; if we are schelduled to work from 9 to 5 and we have clients only from 9 to 12 can they force us to stay even though we are not getting paid hourly( only commission) and tell us we are not allowed to leave until 5 because we are on a W2 and that is our schedule.

    1. As long as you’re making at least the minimum wage for each hour worked within that pay period, it’s legal for them to have you come in before the salon opens–as long as you’re on the clock and that hour is counted towards your total hours worked. This is part of why I think commission is stupid. It’s circumstantially legal from pay period to pay period and most salon owners are not tracking hours at all, let alone meeting their minimum wage obligations.

      If you’re a W2 employee and they’re complying with the minimum wage obligations every employer must abide by, then yes, they can require you to work their schedule, but again, it depends on whether or not you’re being paid in accordance with the law.

  131. Hi I work in a Salon in denver colorado as a booth renter but recently the person who I’m paying is stating I owe back rent. Recently he gave me 2 invoiced over email for back rent he stated i owed last year keep in mind I’ve never gotten receipts for booth rent and suddenly now I am. So i went into work todat and he took my babrer chair stating he won’t give it back till pay. Please help me

    1. Do you have proof that you paid the rent? Is there anything in the lease that allows him to claim your property if you default? Is the chair even your property? Honestly, you’d probably be better off consulting with an attorney.

  132. My daughter worked 4 month at a salon last year as a shampoo technician. She tells me the stylists are the ones who pay her for the work she does for them and then she makes tips from stylists and customers. But there are still days/hours she is required to be there by the owner. She did not receive a W2 or 1099 yet. Is this correct or is she considered self employed? From the article it sounds like she should be considered an employee and should have received a W2.

    1. She is being misclassified. She is an employee for sure. I wrote another article that is helpful. You can find it by using the search box and typing in, “20 factor test.” It goes through all the factors the IRS uses to determine classification and why ICs don’t belong in salons.

  133. I’ve been working at the salon I’m at now for about a year. Within that year the salon owner has went up on my rent 3 times.. She said depending on how much money I make a month will determine my rent.. is this legal..?

    1. If you allow it, it might be. Most states don’t have protections for commercial tenants because they assume, as a business owner, that you’re savvy enough to balance your lease to protect yourself. (They’re wrong in making that assumption, in my opinion. Lease negotiating is tricky business.) If you don’t have a lease, I recommend having one written that sets a flat rate. The value of the space doesn’t change from week to week and neither should your rent. I’m willing to bet that if you were not making much money at all, she would certainly not lower the amount due, so it seems as if she’s using your success as an excuse to price gouge you.

  134. I work at a salon which required me to start as an apprentice where I was paid minimum wage throughout a course of 9 months. I signed a contract that said once I started classes, If I quit within two years of being on the floor after the apprenticeship program I would be required to pay back 9,500 in education fees. Once I finished the program I was already locked into repaying this education. Then I had to sign another contract in order to be placed on the floor as a stylist. It was then that I had to agree to commission of 36%, pay for all of my product costs, and pay for any redos that were passed on to another stylist. I was forced into signing this contract because if I didn’t and decided to leave I would still have to repay $9,500 for my education. Now I am understanding that all of the things they are deducting are wage theft. Does this mean I can leave without having to pay back the education? Thank you

  135. Hi, Tina. I’m an independent contractor – commission only, no taxes taken out, receive a 1099 at the end of the year. My employer recently started taking 3.12% of our credit card tips, and an additional 2.47% to cover a city tax on credit card tips (I cannot find any evidence of this “tax” on the city’s website, and have sent an inquiry about it.) Is any of this legal?

    1. Assuming the “tax” actually exists, it is legal in most states for an owner to deduct credit card fees, however, I highly doubt you’re actually “independent” if the salon owner has you on their payroll.

  136. Hi, Tina! I apologize for being anonymous but if you can see my e-mail a dress theb you’ll know my name. I am in a spa in WV. After reading a ton of your blog posts I am starting to believe that I am being very misused/”mistreated” as an independent contractor. We have plenty of rules to follow, chores to do or we get write ups, she holds out extra for “product usage” (her words when I asked upon receiving my first check). Among many others. She recently spoke with a tax attorney and the department of labor was at the spa for a meeting with her and, to my understanding, a few other workers. We get in “talked to” for running behind or conversations we have with our regulars whom we’ve had for a very long time. Etc etc. The list goes on. Is any of this okay? I’m pretty certain we should be considered employees, not independent contractors. Am I correct? I am very concerned about this….
    Thank you for all your help!

    1. Hi there Anon Lady! (wink wink) You’re correct. You’re supposed to be an employee. If the owner wants to dictate how you conduct business, she needs to classify you properly.

  137. My sister has been working at a salon in Chicago for almost 2 years now. She is expected to pay for all of her tools (scissors, clippers, etc) herself, and the salon takes money from her check each pay period for things like shampoo, conditioner, styling products, etc. She is only paid commission plus her tips, but she does not receive any hourly pay or anything like that. Her employer requires her to be there on a set schedule and is actually denying her the right to take off on a specific days. Based on everything that you have written and responded with, I’m pretty sure I can draw the logical conclusion that this is not legal, but some verification would be appreciated. She receives a 1099 from her employer. Thanks for your help!

    1. Search this website for “independent contractor” and read the articles I’ve written regarding the classification, particularly the 20 Factor post. You’re correct. She’s very likely misclassified.

  138. I’ve been at a salon for 6 months. Recently I’ve noticed that my hours paid are lower than my hours worked. When I brought this up with my owner she told me I was wrong and must not have clocked out one day. Once I handed her proof of my timesheet, all of a sudden it was a “glitch in the system.” Recently a coworker and I took outside education in NYC. We were going to purchase the class ticket of $1,000 on our own when our owner over heard us. She said to go through her and that maybe we would get special deals for going through the salon. We didn’t get any deals and now we owed my owner $1,000 each. My coworker paid her a personal check while I worked out a deal that she would take $100 from each paycheck until it was paid off. When we got to our class and checked in it had our payment information. My salon owner paid for our class in points as well as a credit she stole from another one of our coworkers without his permission. The points are accrued by purchasing retail and backbar product (things she would have to do regardless.) Im upset because she had the opportunity to send us for free, but instead is charging us and pocketing the money and writing the education off in taxes. Is this unjust enrichment? How do I talk to her about this without her having a million excuses?And can I get out of my contract without consequences because of this? My non-compete is 25 miles which is insane and for “in-house education” it is $50 per hour for a total of 400 hours of education. Thats $20,000! It’s ridiculous and I don’t know why I signed it, but here I am stuck in this predicament.

    Can you help me?

    1. Ohhhhh, this is super interesting. I’ve heard of all kinds of unique methods owners employ to commit wage theft, but this is new. She likely will have a million excuses, but there’s enough documentation to prove that she did something wrong and manipulative. As a sidenote, your “non-compete” is unreasonable and very likely would not be held up. (If you search this site for “non-compete” and read the articles I’ve written regarding this, you’ll get more detailed information about it). My ability to help you is limited to some very extensive Googling, but I can try. You’ll get far more help from your local labor department (or state attorney’s office) and an actual attorney with a specialization in employment law.

  139. So I interviewed for a job that offers 50/50 commission, I get paid at the end of every week but I have to supply my own chemicals, hair treatments and pretty much everything except processing caps and backbar. My issue is that she is doing groupons and things like that and if the prices are way low and I am only making 50% of that then I would be paying to do someone elses hair.. Can I be forced to honor a groupon if I am an employee but pay for my own chemicals? Is it even legal to do any of this? The salon owner was one of my teachers is cos school and it would be awesome to work for her but I am concerned about losing money.

    1. One of the chapters in my book addresses this “deep discount dumbassery.” If you are being paid at least minimum wage for each hour you work, it is legal, however, I highly recommend that you have an employment contract drawn up that clarifies how discounted services are compensated. You’re hired under the promise of a percentage of gross sales, the salon owner should not be able to arbitrarily and significantly alter those service prices in a way that would put you at a massive financial disadvantage. Your expenses do not change and neither do hers. These Groupon deals don’t serve her either. She would be better off investing money in ACTUAL advertising. The loss from Groupons is significant and the repercussions go far beyond that initial loss.

  140. I recently purchased a salon and my workers have decided that they no longer want to color their hair, they want to let it grow out naturally. Both girls’ hair is not looking good. So my question is, if i can legally require them to at least change it to where the grow out doesn’t look so awful. I really wish i could require them to continue to color their hair but that I can not do.

    1. Lol! As an employer, you could make “appearance standards” a condition of employment, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, consider telling them that you’ll cover the cost of toning their hair until it grows out. There’s also opportunity in this, as more and more women are moving away from permanent color to a.) avoid chemicals and b.) age gracefully. (For the record, I don’t anticipate that this trend will last very long. We see these fads come and go all the time.) To take advantage of this (and get these women back into the salon), I would promote toners and demi-permanent colors. Should the employees refuse to tone their hair, I would remind them that they are in an image-based, personal care industry and that they need to present themselves as such. Failure to do so may be grounds for termination. (Have you ever walked into a Sephora or MAC and been serviced by an employee with a clean face? No.)

  141. Hello, Tina. I am in wv and I am also an “independent contractor”. Is it legal for a salon owner to withhold money from a paycheck for product? And is it legal for the owners to say no when we request that our schedule be changed to end our days 30 mins earlier? (Due to unforseen circumstances) I have been told no because that is the time of day we are needed. No contracts were signed upon starting this job. I am just trying to figure out if this place is right for me and if I am classified correctly. Thank you for your time.

    1. If you’re “independent,” you shouldn’t be getting a paycheck from the owner to begin with, since they aren’t your employer. If you’re “independent,” you’re self-employed, which means you collect your own money and pay rent to the owner when it’s due. You set your own hours and run your own business. I highly suggest searching this site for “independent contractor” articles and reading all of them. You’re definitely misclassified.

      1. I have read every article I could find on independent contractors on your site among many others! Lol. I was pretty sure then that I am misclassified but wanted to be reassured because I didn’t want to go in guns blazing and be proven wrong somehow. That’d be my luck! (Haha)

        How do I even begin to approach this subject without getting a target placed on my head and without becoming the enemy. We are commission based (I assume that’s the reason for a paycheck), 60/40 which actually comes out to about 50-55/45-50 depending on the services we perform because the owner holds out the percentage for product usage. I can bet 100% if I confront our owner about that I will be told it’s a service fee. If it is truly for “product usage” is that wage theft in WV? I’ve searched but haven’t a clue about how the state code would be worded.

        1. You approach the subject like THIS. 😀

          Here’s the WV Code on deductions (I’ve bolded those applicable):
          §21-5-9. Notification, posting and records.
          Every person, firm and corporation shall:
          (1) Notify his employees in writing, at the time of hiring of the rate of pay, and of the day, hour, and place of payment.
          (2) Notify his employees in writing, or through a posted notice maintained in a place accessible to his employees of any changes in the arrangements specified above prior to the time of such changes.

          (3) Make available to his employees in writing or through a posted notice maintained in a place accessible to his employees, employment practices and policies with regard to vacation pay, sick leave, and comparable matters.
          (4) Furnish each employee with an itemized statement of deductions made from his wages for each pay period such deductions are made.
          (5) Keep posted in a place accessible to his employees an abstract of this article furnished by the commissioner, and
          (6) Make such records of the persons employed by him, including wage and hour records, preserve such records for such periods of time, and make such reports therefrom to the commissioner, as the commissioner shall prescribe by regulation as necessary or appropriate for the enforcement of the provisions of this article.
          §21-5-10. Provisions of law may not be waived by agreement.
          Except as provided in section thirteen, no provision of this article may in any way be contravened or set aside by private agreement, and the acceptance by an employee of a partial payment of wages shall not constitute a release as to the balance of his claim and any release required as a condition of such payment shall be null and void.

          So, you’re misclassified. The owner shouldn’t be distributing your wages to begin with, but I’m willing to bet that the owner would be determined to be an employer, and in violation of these statutes.

  142. i am an independant contractor in a salon and the owner is trying to make me pay her $50 dollars a month to the salon if i do not sell $199 a month in retail. is that legal?

    1. That depends on whether or not you’re actually independent (a renter) or a misclassified employee. If you’re a renter, she can make any changes to the lease agreement that she pleases. Because most states don’t have laws protecting commercial tenants, it’s your responsibility to protect yourself through a very detailed lease agreement. If she were one of my consulting clients, I would highly advise her against this as it does blur the lines between employer and landlord, putting her in a questionable IRS position.

      If you’re a misclassified employee, then no. This fine is not permissible in any way.

  143. If a salon license has lapsed due to not renewing by the due date how long before it expires permanently?If closing the salon then obviously theres no need for a new application and would you need to let state board know this?will a lapsed salon license affect a personal license in anyway?

    1. You’ll have to speak with your state board. Each state governs differently. I know that in Florida, you’re required to submit a form to announce the closing of the business or you could get fined for allowing the license to lapse. I don’t know that the license lapsing would affect your professional license, but again, that would depend on your state’s individual regulations.

  144. I’m about to become a hair salon owner and I will be hiring hair stylists on commission. Is there a form with step by step in terms of taxes, insurance and any other info I will need to do this legally and correctly?

    1. No, but you need to get informed–fast. Commission-only is circumstantially legal. Federal law requires that your employees make at least the prevailing minimum wage, so ensure that you’re tracking hours and making up the difference if their commission doesn’t exceed the amount they would have made at the prevailing minimum. If you’re an employer, everyone must be classified as a W-2 employee, and you must assume the responsibility for all cost of doing business expenses (including product costs, marketing, and payment processing). You also get to retain complete control over all salon operations, so I highly recommend going with employees and not renters. Don’t be tempted to utilize the “independent contractor,” status, as it’s not legal unless the stylists are renters operating an independent business within your salon. There’s tons of free information on my site here, but you may also want to consider hiring a consultant, or at least speaking with an attorney with a specialization in employment law.

  145. I am an apprentice cosmetologist, just starting out. I was offered a position today, (on the spot without her even looking at my resume), at a little salon and she told me she mostly has her stylists booth rent but since im an apprentice she is going to do 60/40 commission but i have to supply my own color and lightener. Is this right? She also said that she doesnt really get very busy, she just stays steady and i will have to put myself out there and advertise to really build my clientele. Should i even bother with this place?

  146. I am a barber/hairstylist in Florida. In the shop we are paid on commission. (70-30) but the owner charges sales tax (on our pay we
    don’t retail product) and even a surcharge for every haircut we do. I’m not so concerned about the surcharge (they say it’s for the
    credit card machine we collectively use) as I am the sales tax that is taken out of our pay at the end of every night!

    They try to tell us we are independent contractors (by issuing us 1099’s) but by LEGAL def. of the law but I have discovered that we are indeed employees!

    I’d love to know your thoughts about how LEGAL this sales tax that is being applied to our pay is!?!?!?

    1. …a sales tax…on income…in Florida?! As a Floridian, I can tell you that this makes absolutely NO sense. You’re misclassified, for starters. If you were renters, it *might* make sense (not sure how we tax commercial rent here), but you’re definitely not a renter. I’m going to take a wild (largely informed, but not entirely certain) guess here, and say that this is wage theft with weak, questionable justification.

  147. Thanks so much for this blog! Ive read through the comments, but im still a little confused in my situation. I’m going to try and make this quick!

    When I started at this barbershop we started with booth rental (which was increased a few months back, which im fine with) , but now he wants to switch to commission (which I’m not keen on) He says he won’t be providing w2s which means I’m taking care of my own taxes. I will be taking cash from clients and then handing his portion at the end of the week. Does this sound like misclassification? Doesn’t sound like IC or employment. Is this legal?

    1. Since no legislation on this exists, we have to rely on IRS revenue rulings, which show that in the vast majority of cases, salon owners who accept commission in lieu of a flat rent are ruled against 6/7 times. Those are really bad odds, so I’m inclined to say it’s not in his best interest to move forward with this plan. I advise my clients who own rental salons to set flat rates because the revenue rulings clearly aren’t in favor of the “commission as rent” practice.

  148. Hi Tina, thank you for all your helpful knowledge. I am a stylist in Ontario and my boss wants me to sign a 5 year contract in order to booth rent. Is 5 years really long and outrageous to ask?

    1. ABSOLUTELY! I would never recommend signing that. To start, do month-to-month. If it goes well, you can consider negotiating a year at a reduced rate, but holy crap. Five years? No way.

  149. Hi I have a question, if you work in a salon that is commission only and you are a w-4 signed employee, can they take 10$ for every color you do and 2$ for every wax you do ect…? My boss used to work at a salon that did that and she uses that to say that the salon she owns is a better place to be because at least she dont charge us for product, but im an employee so she couldn’t do this anyway right? Also I if we are commission w-4 stylist shouldn’t we have to clock in and out to prove our hours and our commission is right?

    1. It depends on when the deduction is being made and what conditions you were hired under. If she told you, “You make X% of gross sales,” but then deducts money, you were hired under false pretenses and therefore the practice isn’t legal. If you were hired knowing that you make X% of *adjusted* sales *after product fees*, then it’s legal. However, if you’re not making at least the prevailing minimum wage, none of it’s legal. Federal law makes recordkeeping a mandatory requirement of all employers (including tracking hours and listing deductions).

  150. Hi Tina,

    I am employed as a licensed massage therapist. I have tons of experience and my clients are generally satisfied (if not thrilled) with my work. Recently, a client paid for an hour and a half massage, received the massage, and then complained to management, who then comped her. Since they comped her, they refused to pay me my normal rate. Is this legal?

    1. That depends. If your state law doesn’t outright prohibit arbitrary wage deductions, and you don’t have an employment contract that prohibits it, it very well may be legal as long as you’re being paid the prevailing minimum wage for each hour you work in the pay period. However, most states do have wage theft legislation that doesn’t allow these kinds of deductions (and if they do, they have to be documented and approved by the employee in most cases).

  151. Hi Tina… I am very new to the beauty industry, I only graduated last March. My question is… I started working at this salon that pays me 60% commission only, which is good if we are busy, sometimes I only have 1 haircut all day and I am required from the salon owner to stay all day even if I will only be making $6.00 all day. We have a chore list that we have to do daily before we are allowed to leave and we are also required to get most of our own stylist products. Whenever she wants to do a promotion she discounts our prices (that are already pretty low for our area) but she still takes the full commission so now we get 60% of the discounted price, is she allowed to do this? or does she has to compensate for the full price? Also, she doesn’t pay our taxes but I haven’t signed any paperwork and I don’t want to be in trouble with the IRS. Also, do I need to have my own business license? I’m sorry its such a long story, I just had lots of questions. Thanks!!!

    1. You should be classified as an employee. That means filling out a W-2 and having the owner withhold and remit your employment tax to the IRS. Currently, it sounds as if you’re misclassified. That arrangement isn’t appropriate and likely not legal. Read this post for more information.

  152. Hi Tina! I started working at a salon as a receptionist a month ago in Florida. I have set hours that I work and have certain duties that I complete (i.e. answer phones, laundry, book appointments.). i also get a 10% commission on any products that i sell. When they hired me they said I would be paid hourly, but be an independent contractor, so I did not fill out a W-2. They said they would eventually teach me to spray tan, since you do not need a license for it. But i do not know when that will actually happen. Does it seem right that I am paid as a contractor?

    Also they girls that I work with, specifically the nail techs are independent contractors, But they buy their own product. They have been told that they could give the owner a copy of the receipt and they would be reimbursed, but they have had issues with this in the past. Are there any laws on this is Florida? Also, the owner does not give us a pay stub to see if we are being paid accurately and when we asked for one they made a big fuss. Any ideas on what to do about this?

    Thanks a bunch!


    1. You need pay stubs. That shouldn’t be up for debate. That’s ridiculous. If they have nothing to hide, there’s no reason not to give them.
      Their use of the independent contractor status is completely wrong. That’s federal law and doesn’t vary from state to state. If they’re paying you hourly, they’re not trying to avoid the prevailing wage requirement–they’re evading taxes. Big, bad news. Red flag. Get out of there. Someone whose greed enables them to break federal tax law will not be above stealing money from your paycheck. You can bet on that.
      The situation with the nail techs is also covered by the federal classification laws established by the IRS. They’re misclassified. The only IC’s that belong in salons are plumbers or carpenters. If those girls aren’t renting, they aren’t self-employed by any definition of the word.

  153. I hope you’re still checking your blog. I see that a lot of time has lapsed between now and your last post. I’m in New York State and want to bring in a massage therapist; I pay a flat rent for two rooms. Because I’ve spent the earlier part of my career being used and abused by spa owners, I wanted to compensate someone for doing other tasks (laundry, answering the phone, reception duties) while they wait between clients. Is it legal to classify them as an independent contractor if they choose their own hours to do these tasks and when to take appointments (without a limit on how many hours they want to work)? I was planning to pay them $9/hr doing office duties (up to 15 hrs/wk), $25/hr for massage-up to 4 massages per week, 50/50 split on massages after that– I would offer to supply advertising, linens, lotion, etc, if they needed. They can wear what they want, use whatever products they want– at their cost. I just remember how hard it was starting out with no clientele, working another part time job, sitting around and working unpaid while waiting for walk-ins that never came. I don’t have the cash for hiring an actual employee; should I just wait it out for a full time renter?

    1. Hi there! Sorry about the delayed response. I still check everything, but generally take a hiatus from November through January (with three kids, four household birthdays, and relatives visiting every week, those eight weeks FLY past).

      Do NOT classify them as independent contractors. That’s not an appropriate use of the classification and would put you in a bad position. You’re crossing roles and blurring lines, so it’s a really bad idea. If I were you, I’d wait for a full-time renter. I revised this article last night, expanding it and including a ton of links to useful articles that may help you. 🙂

      1. Thank you! I did read a bit more on your site. I did have therapists interested in being both renters. I offered them the option of being employees, but it was obviously less ($15/hr) than a fee split arrangement (70 them/30 me), so they preferred the fee split. After doing even more research, it looks like LMTS are only able to fee split from other LMTs. It’s very unfortunate that business practices and legality are not discussed in schools; it leaves everyone vulnerable. I really appreciate you starting this blog and providing so much useful information; I do wish I saw this sooner! Keep up the good work!

  154. Hi! I have a question about the salon I work at. I’m a booth renter in texas, I pay 200 a week to have the space I have in the salon I work at. The owner asks everyone for a $30 contribution to help pay for advertisING and party expenses for the business when we have an event (the salon I work at) is this even legal???

  155. Hey Tina, my wife works as an “employee” and the salon makes her bring in her hair color/products except for the shampoo/conditioner (which I feel is ridiculous). They also charge a high commission of 55% of her total earnings. Then after being employed there for 6 months they started charging her a “employee service deduction fee”, … pretty much just taking an additional 3% to 3.5% percent out of her paycheck to cover marketing and operational charges without their employees signing anything.

    Isn’t some or all of this illegal? IF so, can you please help our situation, I would definitely appreciate your it!!!


    1. None of that is legal. The cost of doing business expenses are the employer’s responsibility, not your wife’s. It’s legal for them to pay her 45% commission, so long as the paycheck equals or exceeds what she would have made for the same amount of hours at the prevailing minimum wage. Charging the fee without disclosing it prior to the pay period is against federal law, and the arbitrary deduction may also be against state or city regulations, depending on where you’re located.

  156. Hello. I’m in a crazy mess at the spa I was renting a booth from and need advice. I’m new to the industry. When I was prepping for my tests I was looking for a salon to go in. A friend of mine was renting a booth at a spa and said it would be a good location. My friend as well as the owner said there was so much clientele at the spa I would stay booked and it didn’t matter that I had hardly any clients of my own. Trusting them I signed a contract. Just basic stipulating my rental amount, a few basic things about what I am responsible for and what the owner is responsible for. The contract was only for 6 months at a time. Stating again I said I didn’t feel comfortable if wasn’t guaranteed to make my booth rent. Several months I made not a penny and had to pay my rent from my other job income. There was never a flourish of clients as guaranteed to me. The owner made me participate in parties, promotions, and discounts without me agreeing. Also booked appointments in times that were not convenient for me. She never gave me receipts for my payments so I wrote them down. I just told her I don’t wish to renew unless I can be commission based because it’s not fair I make no money but still have to pay her seeing that she knew I was new without clients and basically promised me clients. She refused to do commission and has locked all my supplies in the shop. She is trying to charge me full rent for November as well as December even though my lease expired October 10th. Is that legal? I figured I should only be required prorated rent for this month. Also as my items are locked in, the other nail tech is using my supplies. She refuses to even release my license to me. Can I take the police to get my stuff or does she have the right to hold it? I offered prorated rent but she refuses still. I’m willing to sue, but in the meantime my supplies are being used and are not safe. One of my chairs were already broke by them and I was stuck replacing it before. She has also had parties I didn’t agree to participate in and there wasn’t enough nail techs so she brought in unlicensed girls and made us work with them then one client complained about an improper service and I was made to redo it without compensation. I live in Kansas. Thanks for your help. And if I need to sue, can you please direct me on the kind of lawyer I need as well as what I can sue for. Also can I sue the other tech for using my supplies while they are held hostage by the spa owner?

    1. Funny story: I usually take a hiatus from this blog (and other work) from November through to the new year. Usually, I still respond to comments, but this year I somehow locked myself out of my administration panel. I’m PISSED that I didn’t make it a priority to get into it until now because I missed this comment.

      First, you were screwed. It’s a typical scam salon owners run. Don’t feel bad though, this happens to damn near everyone at some point in their careers in this industry.
      Secondly, I normally don’t promote my book, but I’m going to now. I highly recommend that you read it. I wrote it specifically for people like you who are new to the business, in hopes that they could avoid this kind of bullshittery.
      Third, if you haven’t already, definitely call the police. I don’t know where you’re located, but generally what she’s doing is considered theft. You can bring her to court for the (very, very likely) misclassification. If she was booking your appointments through a central reception desk and taking payment from your clients at that desk, she was breaking some pretty clear regulations established by the IRS and the DOL. The attorney you’d want to look for would be one with a specialization in employment law, or one with a specialization in landlord/tenant law. Try and find one with a reputation for defending exploited employees or wronged tenants as opposed to those who defend employers and landlords.

  157. Hi I just want to thank you for all your information! Wow there are alot of crazy Salon owners out there!! I just have a couple of questions. I am a massage therapist and I own my business! I have a friend who has offered me a deal it seem really good and I will have a contract. She is opening a high end salon and at a different time she was my manager. She wants me at her salon so I will be renting a room if it works for me which I will be paying $500 a month and doing my business inside hers I guess booth rental, but if I do any of her clients which will then be mine I will be on commission base which is 60/40 split. It seems good, she said I will still have control over all my own scheduling when I am available and such, is it legal to be both a booth rental and employee at the same time? And does it seem like a good deal. I think it will bring me alot of clients. But I don’t want it to be a conflict. Thank you so much

    1. It’s actually not legal, as it crosses some boundaries established by the IRS with regards to your independent status. These arrangements frequently end poorly, so it’s generally best to agree on a one-time referral fee for the client and keep both of your businesses entirely separate. The ongoing split of revenue puts her into a tricky position legally, so it’s really not in her best interest to move forward with it.

  158. Hi I’ve worked in spas as an employee and as an independent contractor over the years. Currently I’m working as an independent contractor (massage) in California, I am paid weekly commission. At the end of the year the owner of the spa gave me my 1099 but also gave me a different year total to list on my taxes. Basically she wants me to claim I made 100% of the income, and then she had a list of expenses for me to claim: office expense$…, rent$…, advertising$…, etc. I told her I don’t have receipts for any of those items and that I didn’t take in the full payment. She insists that her tax people are totally in agreement with this. To me it seems like she’s trying to make it like her IC’s are booth renters or something. I like where I’m at, we are probably not classified correctly but I don’t think anyone is in this area. The owner is is very nice and maybe she has gotten bad advice but I don’t want to be dishonest on my taxes. I only will claim what I was actually paid and I will only write off what I actually have receipts for. Do you have any links or articles you can recommend? Thanks, you’ve got some great advice I wish I had read this when I started out many years ago!

    1. You aren’t classified correctly, and what she’s trying to do is get you to commit tax fraud by having you claim her expenses as if they were your own to hide the fact that she misclassified you. I can guarantee you that her “tax people” are absolutely NOT in agreement with this, if she has any “tax people” at all. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt though, because I have seen accountants and lawyers both steer people wrong before. I’m going to strongly advise you not to go along with her plan. She’s the only person who will benefit in this arrangement, and should the IRS catch wind of it, you’ll be the one they come after. You’ll only have your word against hers to defend yourself. You want to know if she’s telling you the truth? Ask her if she’s willing to detail her “tax person-approved” plan in writing and sign her name to it in the presence of a witness, or if her tax person would be willing to endorse the scheme in writing and sign off on it. I’m willing to bet their answer will be no. Trust your gut on this one and refuse. Don’t let her make you complicit in a tax fraud conspiracy.

      1. Thanks, I agree. I only claimed MY income & expenses last year but she is pressuring me about it more this year. I’m not going to claim money I didn’t collect or expenses I don’t have receipts for and can’t verify, all those things went through her business not mine. I don’t make the decisions on how her percentage of the service is spent. This is the only part of my job that makes me uncomfortable. Unfortunately most places in the area are set up similar but worse, misclassifing employees as ICs. Aside from the tax issue I’m happy where I am at 🙂

        1. Consider asking her if she’d be willing to claim those deductions herself this year, and move forward with a new method of bookeeping and recordkeeping that clarifies the boundaries between you to keep this from being an issue in the future. It’s in both of your best interests, but mostly hers, lol. She shouldn’t have a reasonable objection to it.

  159. I have been sub contracting in this salon for over 20 years. I just found out in the past 30 minutes that the owner sold the salon. How I found out is the new owner just came in and announced that she is the new owner as of tomorrow and everything in the building belongs to her and the new agreement is 60/40. Then left. What just happened? Please advise.

    1. Well, when a sale happens, you end up with a new boss and have to abide by their rules. Unless you’re an actual freelancer working in multiple salons and on the side, you’re unlikely to be a legitimate independent contractor, so the arrangement you’ve been working under likely wasn’t legal. This new 60/40 arrangement isn’t either unless you’re classified as an employee and paid at least the prevailing minimum wage.

  160. I recently just got my Esthetics license a few months ago and have been working as an independent contractor. I’m confused by how I’m suppose to be paid. I receive 35% commission and get paid through a check from the business at the end of the week. Sometimes I go a week or two without getting paid because I didn’t have anymore clients for the week. The owner recently started using groupon and I could end up making less than minimal wage. Theres also no guarantee the client will leave a tip. The other day the owner called me at 10:30am and I missed the call. I texted her an hour later asking if everything was okay. She replied hours later saying “Pick up next time. I had a woman on a groupon call me this morning saying she wanted it immediately. So I had to do it.” I feel like she could of responded more professional and for all I know it could of been a 30 min facial for $22. I live 45 min away and thats without traffic theres no way I would of made it.

    1. Not only would you not have mad it, the money wouldn’t have even covered your gas. You’re not classified or paid appropriately. You may think you’re making 35%, but you’re really making less than 15%. When you’re an independent contractor, you’re self-employed and responsible for paying the entirety of your self-employment taxes. That knocks 15.3% off your paycheck. Quit. File an SS-8 with the IRS and report that salon owner to your state labor board. This infuriates me. Nobody should be used the way you’re being used.

      1. I plan on quitting when I go in on saturday Im meeting with a salon on Thursday and will hopefully be hired. The owner I work for posted a special on Facebook saying “Buy a 60 min facial, Get one free” Since I’m commission am I suppose to get paid for the free one? Also, are owners suppose to tell independent contractors to try and bring in clients? I’m turning 20 in July so trying to build a clientele is difficult at my age since everyone I know is trying to pay for college. In Rhode Island no one wants to drive 45 min to the other end of the state for a service to them thats a road trip. Ive mentioned that before but I’m always being pushed to bring in clients. Last week when I did a facial for a groupon client the owner did the client consultation and had me wait in my room because she wants a good review. Im working hard to get better with client consultations and I felt so embarrassed. I feel like since I’m so young the owner feels that no matter what I do in the spa she can do better.

        1. If you’re an independent contractor, your job would be walking into the salon, doing the service, taking your money, and walking out. There’d be no expectation of a continuing relationship, and she would be out of bounds to expect anything of you other than the performance of that single service. If you were a self-employed booth renter (classified as an independent contractor with the IRS but not acting as a freelancer like in the previous example), she’d have no right to dictate anything to you. Her job would be to collect your rent and make sure the building is in proper working order. That’s it. With the deal you’re getting right now, you’d be better off renting.

  161. I am an esthetician and massage therapist and currently an employee. The salon owner has asked me to provide my own liability insurance for massage as I am the only massage therapist. Is that legal? I feel like as a commission employee I should not have to pay for my own insurance.

    1. You shouldn’t have to pay for it, but whether or not it’s illegal will depend on the state’s laws. (Some states absolutely prohibit employees to assume “cost of doing business” expenses.) However, I consider PLI policies an absolute necessity, so you should have one regardless of whether or not the employer makes it a requirement. They’re cheap (generally around $300 a year), and are well worth the cost.

      I’m with you on this, though. If she’s covering the PLI for the employees who aren’t massage therapists, she should be covering you as well.

  162. I am the owner of a nail salon in Texas. My salon was cited for violations by an independent contractor, booth renter, or employee. Who is responsible for paying the fine? she offered to pay for half the fine which I think is very fair, but now she will be leaving to another city and the state board has not contacted me about the issue yet, I called and they told me they could not tell me when they would review my case because they have so many cases that need to be reviewed. thanks for you advice in advance.

    1. Which was it? A booth renter, independent contractor, or employee? If it was a renter, they need to cover the fine. If it was an employee, the fine becomes your responsibility.

    1. It depends on the state board’s regulations. Generally, a salon owner is responsible for it, but some states may hold the renter responsible (as they should). In any case, you can draft leases so that the renter assumes responsibility for any fines assessed against the salon that are her fault. (For example, if the inspector finds that she isn’t disinfecting her combs, she needs to pay that fine. If the inspector finds that the landlord has failed to provide hot water for laundry and handwashing, they would take responsibility for that fine.)

  163. Dear Tina!
    I have an emplyee who left my salon and open new salon which is 2 miles away from my shop.
    I concern she will take away my customers to come to her nail shop.
    Is that any law could force her not to do that? Is that ligal to do that anyway?
    My nail shop in Vancouver, WA.
    I would hear some advise from you.
    Thank you and you have a good day.

    1. Hi! I’m sorry to hear about your employee turned competitor. Unfortunately, unless you had the employee sign a non-compete agreement or a non-solicitation agreement, there’s nothing you can really do to stop her. If she stole the client database, you *might* be able to take action (especially if she were a properly classified W-2 employee), but if that’s not the case, it’s pretty much impossible to a.) prove client theft, and b.) prove irreparable, substantial monetary damage to your business.

  164. I can tell you have never owned a salon and you hold very little regard for salon owners. Not all of us “rip off” our stylists and make them work as cheap labor. The first two years of my salon being open, I DID NOT take a paycheck. I provided my small staff with healthcare and benefits and made sure they got continuing education. Yes they fold towels, yes they take out trash and sweep. WE ALL DO. If they want to build their customer base they are required to stay the full shift they are scheduled. There absolutely is a hustle factor to success in this business. If a salon is feeding the stylist clients they are not getting on their own then they need to be available especially if there is any walk in business. I realize your main goal is stylist protection and I am all for it (trust me I treat my team VERY well) please give the owners that are doing to right thing some credit. We are the ones assuming ALL the risk. For the stylists that you do provide help for that are really in bad salon situations, kuddos to you for doing the right thing. Again just remember there are a lot of salon owners who are doing the right thing by their staff. Thanks for your time.

    1. 1.) You’re wrong. I have owned a salon, and I’ve managed them for over ten years.
      2.) You’re wrong. I hold salon owners in very high regard, but I also hold them to high standards. Read some of the posts where I bash up on salon staff for expecting more than they’re owed, delivering less than they’re capable of, and failing to adhere to appropriate professional standards. I don’t discriminate–I call out all forms of bullshit.
      3.) You are an exception; not the rule. Read through the comments on these posts. Owners like you are unicorns. My job as a consultant and educator is to create owners like you. Just because this post may not have applied to you, does not mean that it doesn’t apply to a good deal of salon owners.
      4.) My main goal is to spread the right information. Spend more time on this site getting to know me before you presume to know what my motivations are. I work with salon owners and salon professionals, but by far, I work more often with salon owners. I help them design better compensation structures that are more fair to them and their businesses. I help them through their legal battles and their IRS/DOL audits. I work with their attorneys, helping review their leases and employment contracts. Again, I don’t play favorites. I care about everyone in this business.
      5.) Again, you need to read more. I give salon owners a tremendous amount of credit. I’ve repeatedly said that salon owners assume a massive amount of risk and that they deserve respect, and obedience from people they legally and gainfully employ.

      You’ve made several assumptions about me, so I think it’s only fair I make one about you. I’m guessing this is the first post of mine you’ve stumbled upon. Please, get more acquainted with people before you pass judgments on them.

  165. Can you sue your salon owner for loss of income in the event that they try to terminate your contract on the spot? I’m a booth renter, by the way.

    1. If the contract has eviction detailed and the owner violates that agreement, then yes. Commercial landlord/tenant laws are hard to come by. Many states don’t have them, so you’ll want to talk to an attorney.

      1. Thanks Tina. This lady straight up out of blue was like pack your stuff and get out. No 30 day notice. No 2 week notice. I paid my rent early each week. I was the youngest at my shop with a 1k+ followers in social media (4x more than the salon) and I didnt understand it. I cried and begged to stay there since it was my only source of income. And if I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. She luckily let me stay I was so scared I was going to have to cancel all of my clients that week and possibly lose some. Found out later that she was trying to give a friend of hers a booth to rent in her shop.

  166. Wow. I was just offered a job in a salon that does 1099s and was told all about how I’ll make more money because I’ll be paying less taxes than at the corporate salon I’m currently employed at. But…there’s a schedule, a dress code, sanitations at the end of every shift, etc. I’m told I’ll be operating as an independent contractor but it sounds from your article like I would be an employee responsible for my own taxes. Should I ask the owner if she does indeed audit the weekly paychecks for minimum wage or should I just bow out? I’m very frustrated at the lack of control in my corporate salon which recently decided which colors I can and cannot use,but can’t afford to open a salon suite on my own.

    1. You’re going to pay DOUBLE the taxes you’re paying now (unless you want to evade taxes and risk an audit–not something I recommend). As an “independent contractor,” you’re considered “self-employed” by the IRS, which means you’ll pay 15.3% of your income to the IRS instead of the 7% you’d pay as an employee. As a “self-employed” person, you wouldn’t be eligible for any kind of wage (minimum or otherwise). You wouldn’t be entitled to overtime, worker’s compensation, or any of the other benefits that come with being an employee–but under this arrangement, you’d still be controlled and treated like one. This arrangement offers you NOTHING and offers them EVERYTHING.

      Bow out and report them. They’re doing every single illegal thing I warn about all over this blog.

      1. Take it from me. My wife just went through the same thing for a year and finally told the own to $)@K off. She is now booth renting. It is slow going but it takes time to build your client base. My wife paid a lot in taxes last year! I mean a lot.

  167. I am new to the cosmetology industry I haven’t had my license for a full year yet. My coworker said state board doesn’t allow a stylist to work by themselves in a salon if they haven’t had their license for a full year. Is that true? I’ve tried to research it but I can’t find it. I live in Michigan and I’m not a booth renter.

    1. You can read through your state board regulations to learn if this is true or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Michigan allows licensure through apprenticeship, which means you can skip cosmetology school for the most part and get your education hands-on in a salon. Because that’s the case, it seems reasonable to me that they’d restrict new licensees from operating without direction for a time.

      It’s possible she just doesn’t feel comfortable leaving you alone at work and doesn’t want you to think she doesn’t trust you or your skills. She’s nicer than I am, lol. If I were your employer, I’d tell you outright that I’m not yet comfortable leaving a new licensee on the floor without a senior cosmetologist to back you up. The thought of a new licensee ending up in a sticky technical situation would be enough for me to work longer hours to ensure you have help available if you need it. I think it’s more likely that she didn’t want to undercut your confidence or hurt your feelings. If that’s the case, don’t take it personally. It takes at least three years of full-time work to get to a place where you’re unlikely to be confronted with a scary new challenge you haven’t yet encountered. I think she knows that and has likely been in a similar situation (alone, new, and facing a crisis she didn’t know how to handle). I think she’s trying not to be like other salon owners who throw fresh meat onto the floor and tell them to sink or swim. If I’m right, you’ve likely found yourself a good salon owner.

      EDIT: Oh, I just realized she’s not the owner, lol. Sometimes, I read too fast. Anyways, it’s possible that it’s true in Michigan.

  168. Thank you the owner was making me work alone the coworker was worried for me and my license but I left there today thank you.

  169. I work at nail salon and I help them with training and answering phones laundry I get paid by Commission it’s it illegal not to get a day off?

  170. Hi Im new to all of this just have a concern. My daughter is being trained to do hair correction the person who is training her wants her to sign a 2 year contract getting starting at 10$ an hour.The shop is one hour away and she works from one to two in the afternoon till two or three in the morning if not later. Just want to know if she should sign the contract and what she should be looking for or what kind of questions she should ask. please help thanks.

    1. What in the actual hell is going on there? I have serious concerns, and they have nothing to do with her pay. First, why is this salon open that late? Human trafficking and prostitution businesses often set up fronts as beauty salons, and they use those businesses to launder their money. These hours, to me, are a huge red flag that something isn’t right.

      Read this post, then this one, and then tell her to save the money for the training and pay for it outright. DO NOT allow her to sign that contract. Find out what the hell is going on down there. Something is certainly NOT right. (How many people do you know that go have their hair done at 2 or 3AM?)

  171. Hi Tina, so I have a situation that I’m put in as of 4 hours ago on 8-28-16 that maybe u can help with?? I am an independent contractor stylist of 11 years. I recently had a unpaid consultation with a potential client. Due to some miscommunication and scheduling problems she was not happy with her appointment and continued to write a bad review on yelp. The salon owner (newly of 2 years) went behind my back contacted the client and asked another rental stylist to do a free service to regain her business. I approached her about it and as of now I have less than 24 hours to get my things along with her locking me out of the online client scheduling so I am unable to see who I need to contact and inform of the situation. I’m pretty sure this is not how things should be handled on her end and am considering legal action. Please help!

    1. You need to IMMEDIATELY get an attorney. This isn’t appropriate at all. What she’s doing is inappropriate. She’s interfering with and harming your business. Helping you is far outside of my pay grade, though, so call someone who can.

  172. Hi Tina! I am in Oregon and I am a booth renter. I am trying to do research to find out what are the laws about a booth renter selling their own products. I would like to but my salon owner says she provides products to sell and gives me commission. How can I find the specific laws or documents that state I am my own business and I can do this?

    1. Hi Jessi! Most states don’t have specific laws pertaining to retail sales within a landlord’s business. Generally, most states leave that up to the landlord. Many landlords use their retail boutiques to help keep rental rates low (especially in high-cost retail spaces in cities like LA and NYC where the booth rental per station would be too high for most stylists to afford if the cost weren’t offset by the retail department). However, if you’re interested in retailing a line she doesn’t sell, consider setting up an online store. You’re self-employed, so there’s nothing she can do to keep you from operating an online retail outlet, so long as your lines aren’t intersecting with hers. (If you’re undercutting her on the same products she’s selling, that’s a conflict and would probably inspire her to immediately terminate your lease.) I don’t see why she’d take issue with you selling completely different products that she doesn’t carry, in a way that doesn’t take up floor space, distract from her retail boutique, or conflict with her own store.

  173. So I was working as an IC at a commission salon and decided to go to boothrent. I bought business cards and let some of my clients know I was leaving and gave out my info or obtained their info through the clients themselves. Well my previous boss fired me for “soliciting” and refused to pay me on payday. I called the labor board and was told they had 72 hrs to give me my check, well it took a week for her to send me my check, when I went tot cash it, there was a “stop payment” on it, so I contacted them and asked why and they said they are suing me and the girl that got fired along with me, suing us for “stealing” client information. So we went to the labor board to file a claim against them for 2 checks that are owed to us. It’s been almost a month since we got fired and still haven’t received our money. They have really put us in a bad spot. We both had to move out of our homes and move in with other ppl since we can’t afford to pay our bills. I just don’t know what to do anymore. We both work at booth rent salon but it’s been slow and we’re really tight on money since we haven’t reviewed the money owed to us. What can we do???

    1. The only thing you really can do is keep following up with the labor board or hire a private attorney. This is why I find these crimes so incredibly egregious. These owners do this to people like you because they know they can. I’d recommend filing an SS-8 with the IRS the second you’re served with any kind of court document. By enforcing a non-compete, the owner is admitting you weren’t actually independent.

  174. I work in a salon in TN , she keeps saying that we are self employed and we do
    Pay our own taxes . However she makes us get a business license each stylist
    Has one and we pay taxes on
    That to and we work her hours we don’t have a shop key ! But she writes us a check
    Weekly ! Wouldn’t that mean we are legally an employee ! And why do we need a business license this is the first salon I’ve worked at that does that !

  175. Comment: Can a customer be referred elsewhere if it is not possible for the salon to provide services to the person in accommodating their special needs?

    1. Absolutely! Not only can they be, but they should be for their own benefit. I recommend having a network of physicians and specialty practitioners (podiatric nail technicians, for example) to refer them to.

  176. I own a booth rental salon. A few stylists are breaking away and starting a new salon. A couple of the stylists that are leaving have been at my salon since right out of school. So, I would say most, if not, all of the clients they service came after they were already at my salon. I have heard that they are notifying clients of the their new location, surely in an attempt to take them, while still working in my salon. You said it is unlawful and unethical for them to do that and we should take legal action. How would i go about proving it and what would the damages be?

    1. If you own a booth rental salon, you cannot do anything about it. They’re business owners and you’re their landlord. You weren’t their employer. If you were employing them, you may have legal recourse, but if they were renting from you, they’re not employees–they’re tenants. Technically, the clients belong to them and their independent businesses.

  177. Hi! I recently switched from full time booth renter to part-time. I’m one of three hairdressers in the salon, one of which is the owner. She has asked me to pick specific days I have to work and she’s going to charge me if I work any other days than the 3 days I choose. I picked Monday Friday and Saturday. So if I work Tuesday Friday and Saturday I have to pay her $25 extra on my booth rent. Is this normal? I would understand if I was sharing a chair with another hairdresser but we have an extra station at our salon and no one is using it so if she hired someone else they could always use that chair.

    1. She might be looking to rent out your station to another part-time stylist, which wouldn’t be unreasonable. (There are new apps coming to the US market that allow owners to put stations up for rent to one-time and short-term tenants looking for a place to do a few services. It’s a pretty cool idea. I did some consulting for the company when they were in beta, so this is probably a solution she’s exploring. If she does it right, you guys may be in for a rent decrease, or some cool amenities.) If she pro-rated your rent for part-time hours, she’s trying to keep you from abusing that rate by working more hours than you’re paying for, which also makes sense. (It’s not fair to the full-time renters if you’re working more hours than you’re paying for.)