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07 January 2019 | Posted by Salon Services in Business

Easy guide to fair pay for employees

Check your salon or business is paying employees fairly with our guide to staff pay, the UK minimum wage, and how much staff wages will increase in 2019.

What is the minimum wage?

The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 sets a UK minimum wage per hour that you must pay your staff.

No matter if you employ one apprentice or 10 full-time salon workers, it’s your legal responsibility to pay your staff AT LEAST the minimum wage they are entitled to. No ifs, no buts: failing to do so is a criminal offence, and will result in fines, plus you can be taken to court.

Obviously how much you can pay your staff will depend on factors such as your overheads, how much you charge clients and what you expect of your workers.

While a trainee or inexperienced worker might be happy to receive minimum wage, your hotshot hairdresser or manicurist who has bought in loads of new clients will expect more, and will probably move elsewhere if you can’t offer a competitive salary.

Do all employees get the same minimum wage?

The exact minimum wage you are required to pay each salon employee per hour is determined by their age and, in some cases, role, for example hair or beauty apprentices or those on work experience. The minimum amounts you should be paying per hour in 2018 are:

Age Amount
25 and over £7.83
21-24 £7.38
18-20 £5.90
Under 18 £4.20
Apprentice* £3.70

*The apprentice rate only applies to employees who are either in the first year of their hair or beauty apprenticeship or are under 19 years old.

So if you had two employees, both in the second year of their apprenticeship but one was aged 18 and the other 20, you would have to pay the 20-year-old at least £5.90, but the 18-year-old only £3.70. In their first year both could be paid £3.70.

How much will I have to pay staff in 2019?

Minimum wage rates change every April, so from April 2019 you’ll need to adjust your salon staff pay by at least the following amounts per hour:

Age Amount
25 and over £8.21
21-24 £7.70
18-20 £6.15
Under 18 £4.35
Apprentice* £3.70

“Official rest breaks and lunchtimes do not count as working hours”

So, what’s the living wage and how is it different?

National living wage is the term used to refer to the minimum rate you must pay to employees aged 25 and over (£7.83 in 2018).

This is not to be confused with the ‘real living wage’, which refers to separate rates set by the Living Wage Foundation (UK campaigners for fair wages based on the ‘real cost of living’ to reflect what people need to spend on food/clothing/housing).

These are voluntary minimum wages, higher than the national minimum. As an employer, you may wish to apply these rates to advertise yourself as a ‘Real Living Wage’ employer, but you’re not legally obliged to pay these amounts.

How much should I pay Saturday staff under 16?

School-aged children aren’t entitled to the national minimum wage so the amount is set by you, but there are rules on employing children.

The youngest age a child can be employed part-time is 13. Find out more about child employment.

Should I pay staff for a lunch break?

When calculating the number of hours worked by salon employees, include all time spent ‘at work and required to be working’.

Official rest breaks and lunchtimes do not count as working hours, nor if an employee comes in early before their start time to get changed, for example.

However, if your salon staff are not actually working during their working hours, because they:

  • Don’t have clients
  • Are waiting to collect deliveries
  • Can’t work due to faulty equipment

this all qualifies as working hours. Training and travel for business also count under working hours (although not the actual journey to and from work).

What happens if I pay less than the minimum wage?

HMRC has the right to carry out checks at any time and request to see payment records – and can investigate employers if an employee complains to them.

If you fail these checks you may find yourself on the government’s public ‘naming & shaming’ list, which can appear in both local and national press, so very bad for your reputation.

Find more information on the minimum wage.

Salon Services is not a financial or legal advisor, this information is to be used for reference only.

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