In a landmark judgment for the hairdressing industry, a self-employed hairdresser, Meghan Gorman, has won an Employment Tribunal case against Manchester city centre’s Terence Paul salon for notice, holiday and redundancy pay.
The essence of the claim is that because Meghan was subject to the same controls as employees in terms of days worked, start and finish times, treatments and discounts given, products used, holiday dates as well as 67% of her takings being kept by the salon, she was not truly self-employed, despite her contract with the salon.
Employment Tribunal Judge, Marion Batten, ruled in favour of Meghan in March. The reasons for the ruling were released this month – these being the salon’s tight control over her working practices which effectively treated her as an employee, therefore she should benefit from the same employment law rights.
The judgment has opened the opportunity to further claims from Meghan who intends to pursue a legal case for unfair and wrongful dismissal, sexual discrimination and failure to provide a written contract of employment.
The successful claim is also hugely significant to the entire hair industry because many hairdressers who think of themselves as being self-employed actually aren’t. More claims of this nature calling out false self-employment are now highly likely.
Lee Jones is a specialist Solicitor at LLB Solicitors, who has represented hundreds of clients following injuries at hair salons. Lee states:
“We welcome this decision from the Employment Tribunal which may be beneficial for clients who have suffered injuries caused by hairdressers because it has the potential to make the hairdressing claims process more straightforward. Salon owners often look to avoid their responsibilities by hiding behind the pretence that their hairdressers are self-employed.”
The decision makes it clear that hair salons carry the ultimate responsibility for the staff they control. Lee continued:
“This judgment exposes the truth of these arrangements and puts the responsibility back in the hands of the salon owners, who should ensure they have insurance in place to cover the activities of all of their hairdressers regardless of their supposed employment status. Once salon owners start taking their responsibilities seriously, we are likely to see standards improve and fewer injuries.”
Anything that might reduce the risk of scalp burns, bleaching injuries, over-processed and damaged hair is welcomed by us. If you have suffered an injury caused by a negligent hairdresser and want to talk about claiming compensation, please contact us now or read more here.
Hairdressers and barbers must follow strict new rules, according to the government. Having finally been allowed to reopen after an enforced 14-week closure, guidelines in place have altered the salon experience in a dramatic way.
In last week’s blog, titled ‘Hairdressing without the small talk’, we described the first of these restrictions – a talking ban. To remind you, consultations are to be given virtually, chat in the salon kept to a minimum, and essential discussions undertaken with hairdresser and client standing side by side.
But this silence rule is just one of many changes. If you’re not yet one of the lucky people who has visited the hairdresser’s post lockdown, here’s more of what you can expect next time you attend an appointment…
PPE equipment: All staff will be wearing some combination of face masks, visors, disposable aprons and gloves. Clientele may be asked to wear disposable gowns and gloves too.
Advance pre-payment: To minimise interaction in the salon, payment will either be taken upfront at the time of booking or made by contactless card on the day. A slotted container for tips could be in use on the premises.
No bags, jackets or coats: It’s advisable to take bags and outdoor clothing only if absolutely necessary on the basis that the virus can stay on fabrics for days.
Longer opening hours: To balance demand with the need for social distancing, salons may offer earlier opening and later closing with staggered shift patterns and special slots for vulnerable individuals. Be flexible about your appointment time.
No refreshments or reading material: Forget having a brew and flicking through magazines while you wait as it’s likely you’ll be required to arrive only when texted to notify your stylist is ready for you.
Reduced services: To clear the backlog of missed appointments built up these past weeks, limited options could be on offer in order to accommodate everyone with dry cuts and other treatments not available for hygiene reasons.
Spacing and screening: Alternate styling stations might be left empty to meet one metre apart obligations, and screens between stations and at the back-wash area fitted for extra sneeze-proof safety.
Extreme cleanliness: Optimised levels of cleanliness will become the norm such as sterilising hand gel on reception; sanitised and regularly disinfected workstations, chairs, mirrors and tools; and routine disposal of single-use equipment.
Salons will adopt their own unique mix of some or all of these COVID-19 safety measures. There could be more too; infrared thermometers being a possibility. Hopefully you’ll be briefed by your salon ahead of your given slot.
Amidst this sea of change, make sure one thing at your hairdresser’s remains constant – high standards of care and quality hairdressing. After a lengthy period of absence, you don’t want your first trip back to the salon (or, indeed, any salon visit!) to end in disaster. By which we mean hair breakage, hair damage, scalp burns and scalp blisters; the consequences of negligent hairdressing.
The majority of our country’s hairdressing salons reopened for business on 4th July. With waiting lists running into the hundreds, if not thousands, some hairdressers actually tended to their first customers in three-and-a-half months at one minute past midnight thereby opening their doors at the earliest possible time yet still adhering to the government’s restrictions.
Whilst people up and down the UK are desperate to get their ‘lockdown hair’ fixed and unruly locks trimmed by a professional instead of having to resort to DIY cuts and colours, the salon experience is now markedly different to what it was pre pandemic. The main differentiator is the new silence rule.
In the past, engaging in small talk with our hairdressers was a key part of the event’s enjoyment. Many of us form strong friendships with our stylists over the years. A hair appointment signifies a chance to catch up, discuss upcoming plans, share news and generally gossip about what’s happening in our locality. Forced to keep chat to a minimum will feel strange as we adjust to this temporary new-normal hairdressing regime.
To enforce the government small talk ban, salons are likely to perform virtual or phone consultations before the actual appointment date, avoid conversation of any form during hair washing and head massaging, and undertake essential discussions only when stood side by side or with the hairdresser positioned behind the client looking into the mirror.
The reason for these constraints is fairly obvious. The transmission of coronavirus is intensified by face-to-face contact. From a hairdressing perspective, this includes talking over the basin as hairdresser and client are within close proximity.
Prescribed quietness at the hairdresser’s may come as a disappointment but, on the plus side, it does allow stylists to process more people and get through waiting lists quicker, and focus on their work without distraction.
If you’ve seen our earlier blog posts, you’ll know that lapses in concentration can result in solutions being left on hair for too long, product guidelines not being followed to the letter, and negligent use of hot and sharp styling implements, to name a few. The consequence is scalp burns, scarring and hair damage.
We have another word of warning here. Make sure the initial consultation you’ve given is adequate to assess your hair and decide upon the correct course of action. Also, it doesn’t negate the need for strand and patch tests which should still continue to be undertaken up to 48 hours prior to chemical treatments.
In the unfortunate event that you suffer harm at your hairdresser’s, our expert team are on hand to help you progress a claim for compensation.
The official line is that no one should be getting their hair done by a professional hairdresser or barber during lockdown. As mandated by the government in its ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, individuals providing hairdressing services are currently forbidden to do so on anyone other than a family member.
These rules first came into force on 23rd March. The hair sector is set to reopen for business on 4th July. Between these dates, however, although illegal, there have been news reports of underground hairdressing backed up by statistics relating to purchases of mobile services products. Suppliers of salon-professional products have reported bulk buying of bleaches and dyes these past weeks. Apparently, sales ‘fell off a cliff’ to begin with and have ‘rocketed’ thereafter. Read more on this subject on The Sun’s website.
A related article on The Guardian’s website attributes the soaring demand for illicit hairdressing on people wanting to appear well groomed at work-related virtual meetings as well as keyworkers who continue to operate on a face-to-face basis from physical premises. The other driving force for clandestine hairdressing is financial pressure; some hairdressers not being eligible for government support yet still having bills to pay.
According to individuals cited in the same piece on The Guardian’s website, ‘probably 80% of hairdressers are at it’ including ‘barber shops with newspapered windows’, ‘alfresco barbering’ underneath garden gazebos and ‘mobile hairdressing vans’ touring neighbourhoods. All of the hairdressers and barbers concerned are contravening social distancing rules despite the risks to both themselves and their clients. The risk, ultimately, being a second wave of COVID-19.
Looking ahead to next week, it’s anticipated that the backlog of missed appointments runs into the thousands for some salons so it may be a while before the majority of us can enjoy a proper haircut. When the time eventually comes, heed our earlier warning about choosing a reputable hairdresser in order to avoid unwelcome hair disasters which, at the extreme, comprise hair breakage, hair damage, scalp burns and scalp blisters.
There’s nothing quite like that fresh-from-the-salon feeling you get when you’ve had your hair cut at the hairdresser’s. Whilst choosing a hairdressing salon shouldn’t be fraught with risk, unfortunately sometimes it can be.
To help you avoid the same fate, today’s blog shares things to watch out for when selecting your hairdresser which we’ve gathered from across the web:
1. There’s little (or no) website and social presence
Online platforms such as websites and social media channels are the ‘shop window’ of any organisation. Not only do active web profiles suggest a degree of professionalism which probably means you’ll receive better hairdressing services, they also help set your expectations regarding how much hair treatments will cost. Research then pick a stylist best matched to your requirements and budget before you call to book an appointment.
2. Lots of promotional discounts are offered
It’s not always the case that cost is dictated by quality but where hairdressing is concerned, it typically is! Price is usually a reliable indication of a reputable salon. Expert stylists are rewarded by being able to charge higher pricing. It’s nigh on impossible for hairdressers to maintain consistency if they’re discounting this and that. Standards can slip if they’re rushing through appointments to subsequently recoup lost earnings. While it may be appealing to consumers with tight purse strings, be wary of heavy discounts.
3. There are too many (and unaddressed) bad reviews
Of course, there’s more likelihood of people putting pen to paper in order to complain if they’re disappointed with their hairdresser. In saying that, review websites such as TripAdvisor are extremely useful as they give an insight into previous customers’ experiences and show the level of service provided. Positive reviews are a great form of marketing and are strong incentive to book. Negative reviews, however, aren’t necessarily completely bad. If the salon has dealt with complaints by addressing concerns raised, it shows they’re listening and responding to feedback in all its forms. Conversely, if they’re disinterested and attempting to simply sweep under the carpet, stay away.
4. You’re not asked questions or made welcome
Upon booking and upon arrival, your first impression is with the receptionist. You should be asked pertinent questions over the phone to ensure you’re allocated the appropriate stylist. Similarly, when you turn up at the given time, you should be welcomed by a friendly face, offered a drink, directed to your seat and told how long you’ll be waiting for your stylist. A warm, relaxing environment is essential. If it isn’t, do an abrupt about turn and leave!
5. You’re not given a hair consultation
Before getting down to business or launching into idle chit chat, your hairdresser must consult about what cut and finish you desire. If a consultation doesn’t take place, will everyone depart the salon with the same style? Or will you be given a treatment that’s not suitable for your hair and skin type? Negating the consultation is a recipe for disaster. This is also the time to agree the fee so there are no nasty surprises or hidden costs thrown at you when it comes to paying.
6. You don’t undergo a patch or strand test
Following on from #5, pre appointment (approximately 48 hours before) you should have a patch or strand test performed if you intend to get a chemical treatment (be it dyeing, bleaching, straightening or perming). This will assess the chances of any potential adverse or allergic reaction. At Hairdressing Claims, we encounter daily individuals who suffer harm by their hairdresser. Read our further advice and find out what to do if this happens to you.
7. The salon isn’t clean
Cleanliness is definitely next to godliness in the hairdressing world. Being clean is a great virtue for salons. It’s visible evidence that you’ll be treated with the same care and attention, and that there won’t be any mishaps – slips and trips from unswept hair or spillages; infections picked up from dirty equipment etc. Take stock upon arrival. Even at this stage, it’s not too late to change your mind.
8. You’re not asked if you’re happy with your hair
The same as every service provider, your hairdresser should ask if you’re satisfied with the results before you’re handed the bill. As already intimated, it’s all about interaction and relationships with the entire salon team – receptionist to shampooist to hairdresser. If disenchanted with any part of the process, even if your hair looks amazing, it won’t feel like a wholly positive experience. Make sure you opt for a salon that will look after you well.
9. You have to re-do your hair at home
You’ve just spent your hard-earned money on having your hair done. You shouldn’t later feel the need to fix it yourself. Any credible stylist is capable of cutting and styling your hair precisely how you want it.
10. Your stylist always runs late
Sloppiness with timings doesn’t bode well for a good haircut. Whether it’s due to overbooking, too much chatting, laziness or other tardiness, they clearly don’t value your business enough. Your time is valuable and you deserve to be treated like royalty for the duration of your hair treatment.
There are plenty of respectable, eminent hairdressers out there so, if you need to break free from your current one, there’s nothing to stop you. While doing so may cause short-term awkwardness, it’s worth it in the long run to get a better stylist who’ll do your hair just right.
If you watched Boris Johnson’s 10th May announcement, you’ll know that the latest slightly-relaxed government measures dictate that hairdressing salons won’t open again until 4th July at the very earliest.
What will the eventual easing of lockdown restrictions mean for the hair industry? Well, first of all, there’s a backlog of missed appointments and ‘lockdown hair’ to remedy. Added to this, there’s the recently launched National Hair Sunday campaign so priority may be given initially to NHS staff seeking hair treatments.
To elaborate, National Hair Sunday has been thought up by Royston Blythe and Nick Malenko from TV’s Real Housewives of Cheshire series. As reported on the BBC website, the duo are calling on salons to join forces in a united effort to support our national heroes – NHS workers – by promising free hairdressing on the first Sunday post lockdown.
Apparently, thousands of salons UK-wide have signed up to National Hair Sunday in order to show their appreciation for the people saving our lives and risking their own during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the likes of the average woman and man on the street (that’s us, by the way!), we’ll just have to wait a little longer to book those sought-after salon slots when July approaches.
As with any visit to the hairdresser’s, apply caution if you’re undergoing chemical or heat treatments as hair and scalp damage can be caused by general lack of care and attention. Read all about these potential dangers in our earlier blog post titled ‘6 reasons to sue your hairdresser’. You might also wish to read our recent article regarding home hair treatments, should you decide to take matters into your own hands where managing your hair is concerned over the coming months.
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