Nail Salon Workers Get a Hopeful Boost

manicuristMaybe you read the New York Times piece exposing the conditions that nail technicians in New York City were facing, the low wages workers received and the unethical treatment some suffered. Many seemed to have no way out of the situation. Governor Andrew Cuomo and other legislators got involved to try and stop these practices and improve the work environment in salons.

A new bill passed by the state’s legislature will change the “appearance enhancement industry” or places like salons or spas. The bill encourages the state to shut down unlicensed salons or fine those without a bond or liability insurance, but asks that financers make sure that bonds or liability insurance are easily available to salon owners. Manicurist trainees will need a certificate to work under a licensed nail technician but only need a year of training and to pass an online course to qualify for their license. The hope is that the bill will give the work force more power and sniff out the bad seeds in the industry.

The article mentioned at the beginning talked about how workers would be designated as “trainees” by their employers so they could be paid less, sometimes not at all, but they never knew how long they would have to work as trainees. Trainees would sometimes even be charged for the “privilege” of being hired by a new employer or if they wanted to learn a new skill. Many suffered mistreatment, abuse or punishment at the hands of employers. Nail technicians who do jobs like shaping fake nails are at risk of health issues associated with inhaling acrylic dust.

The state’s Labor Department is in charge of inspections but there are already so many salons and even more are popping up, and there is not a lot of staff who speak the languages that many nail workers speak, so it can be difficult to contain the problem. Workers are also hesitant to talk to investigators out of fear. It is hard to keep track of licensed manicurist as well, even though they are required to be licensed it is easy to evade investigators or sell or make fake licenses.

Many nail salon workers are immigrants and may not know their rights or feel trapped in their circumstances- they are far from their home and feel they have nowhere else to go so they continue to suffer in these low paying abusive jobs. Hopefully this new legislation will go a long way in helping protect them from abuse and health problems at work.

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