Beauty Industry: Policy Reforms Headed Our Way

by Fred Jones, reprinted from this news site

In January 2016, Fred Jones provided a general overview of some policy and regulatory reform trends that he saw coming down the pike.

Among those was my prediction there’d be a backlash to a New York Times series that ran in early 2015, exposing many workplace violations in NYC nail salons. Given most of the effected workers were minorities (predominantly Vietnamese, most of whom were first-generation immigrants with limited English comprehension), this Times report hit several politically sensitive areas.

The State Legislature and Governor of New York acted almost before the ink dried on the Times reporting. And sure enough, my own state of California saw an unprecedented number of bills introduced this year targeting our industry, most of which were intended to address concerns raised in that Times reportage.

Though nearly all of these proposed laws were focused solely upon nail salons, because our State Board doesn’t distinguish between nail, hair or skin salons in promulgating establishment licenses, those bills were going to apply across the entire industry.

From a bill that would’ve required salons to undergo employee-rights training as a condition for licensure to a bill that would’ve micromanaged the way in which salons utilize credit card payments, many of the bills as introduced this past February would’ve added a significant regulatory burden upon all salons, not to mention an enforcement nightmare for State Board officials.

Fortunately for those earning a living in California’s beauty industry, we are organized, present and influential in California’s capitol. We were able to engage the bill authors and sponsors in constructive dialogue about the real world ramifications of their ideas, bringing the Governor’s Administration into these discussions as these bills progressed through the Legislature.

As a result, we were able to work with most of the policymakers to craft legislation that was workable for regulators and salon owners/employees, alike, while still satisfying their concerns about the troubling revelations regarding our industry’s nail salon sector.

With one bill, however — the one dealing with credit card micromanagement, we simply couldn’t convince the author to back down. And this State Senator, who represents more Vietnamese nail salons than any other State Legislator in the nation, had enough momentum with her legislative colleagues to cobble together majority votes in both Houses to shepherd her bill through the legislative process, despite our opposition. We were fortunate to have had the ear and respect of gubernatorial officials as this troublesome item continued to squeeze through the “legislative sausage mill,” so that once the bill arrived on Governor Brown’s desk, it was promptly vetoed.

This recently concluded biennial legislative session had more attention paid to our industry than any in our state’s history! But we were ready and well positioned to assert ourselves into these critical policy discussions and decisions, bringing realistic insights to bear as new laws were crafted.

If your State Legislature and Governor haven’t yet addressed concerns with our nail sector, I wouldn’t be surprised if New York and California’s recent legal reforms don’t make their way to your state, soon. So now is the time to organize, inform and mobilize, so that you, too, can engage the policy-making process to ensure level-headed and realistic reforms that protect salon workers while not bankrupting salon owners.