If It Ain’t Broke...
  • Maggie Franklin
  • April 2, 2014

So I hired a henchman. Since I already refer to my Mom and my niece as my “minions,” I decide that what I needed at this point was a “henchman,” which I define as “someone to do my killin’ for me.”

Which translates into, I need another nail tech. Someone to take on new clients I can’t accommodate.

Henchman Kristen was supposed to officially start yesterday — April 1. But last-minute set-up needs and a flurry of paperwork and worker classification and compensation research has me in a panic.

First of all, for reasons I will no doubt be sharing over the next several posts, I have decided to hire a bona fide employee. Which complicates matters ridiculously, and leaves me with few go-to resources among my peers in an industry that is primarily booth rental. Leaving me to largely figure it out myself.

I’ve been reading through the FSLA (http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-flsa.htm) and California labor laws, combing through fine print to determine for myself what’s legal, what’s not, and what nobody knows.

Not being one to just take what others tell me as gospel, naturally I have to read it all myself: Can I legally pay commission only? Under what circumstances? Salary? Overtime? Etc., etc., and so on.

So here’s where I finally just threw up my hands in an exasperated, incoherent rant today. I just wanted to know if — given the nature of our business — my new henchman should CHOOSE, of her own free will, to come down to the salon and sit at her station to play, practice, or just watch me work and chitchat with us on her own time, when she is not scheduled to be here, isn’t expected to be here, doesn’t have to be here... is she considered “at work” and therefore subject to being paid?

If an employer “suffers or allows” an employee to work, then that employee has to be paid. Which only stands to reason that if I allow my employee to work — whether she’s technically scheduled or not -- I’d have to pay her. But apparently, by allowing her to hang out in the salon during her free time, it could be considered “allowing” her to work.

[shaking my head] But this is the type of work where you must practice all you can if you want to improve your skills. So if an employee opts to make an effort at becoming a better tech, the employer (me) has to pay her? But if she practiced on her own time at home, I wouldn’t? But if she were a booth renter, she could hang out down here 24/7 and not make a dime (and still have to pay me rent).

Am I the only one who thinks my employee ought to be able to choose for herselfwhether or not she wants to spend her free time practicing her skills? Without putting her employer in the delicate position of having to say, “NO! You have to leave the salon unless you are on the schedule!”? Who does this benefit?

I start to understand why so much of our industry continues to fly under the radar — continuing to operate as it has for decades. I’m all for not trying to fix things that aren’t broken. Unfortunately, there are more things broken than not, and you can bet I’m gonna be discussing those things.

Keywords:   employee issues  

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