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Getting pay right in your salon.

Posted January 27, 2022

It’s pretty rare for a salon owner to go out of their way to deliberately underpay their workers. We do see it, in splashy expose’s in the tabloids, when large companies and chains get it wrong.  But it’s not uncommon to see small businesses pay their staff incorrectly – and ignorance is not a defence warns Legal Practice Director Meg Crawford of Ai Group Workplace Lawyers.


“In most cases, underpayments are not deliberate. They are frequently the result of payroll errors or inadvertent misapplication of awards or enterprise agreements. The underpayments range from being really significant through to cents out.” Ms Crawford said.


Salon owners in particular need to be on top of their payroll obligations and ensure that they are protecting themselves and their business at all times. When employees transition from one level of the award to another is a common time for confusion around pay levels to enter the conversation, as is incorrect pay (or missed pay all together) for public holidays. This is compounded with an award that typically changes once if not twice a year, with the last change to the award commencing on 1 November 2021. This year alone starting from 31 January 2022, casual employees who works ordinary hours on a Saturday are entitled to be paid a 138% penalty rate (which includes their casual loading).


A few simple mistakes and suddenly, salon owners could be up for large amounts of money to backpay their staff; or worse, an absolute PR disaster. In a climate where ALL salon owners are struggling to get staff, the last thing any hair and beauty business wants to do is have a reputation for underpaying their team.


“I’ve yet to come across an employer who has got it absolutely right. I’d encourage businesses to conduct a spot check at least biannually to see if they are paying their people accurately,” said Ms. Crawford.


The ramifications of underpaying your team can potentially be huge. From orders to backpay and fines for smaller amounts, right the way through to jail time for new wage theft provisions, it’s worth the time for salon owners to check and double-check their staff pay rates.

It pays to work on prevention, rather than having to come up with a cure quickly.

HABA assist salon owners in every aspect of Workplace Relations, from staff disputes through to rate cards and support during pay disputes. We work with the specialist employment lawyers at Ai Group to ensure that our members have the right advice during difficult times. A membership with HABA is like an insurance policy – you don’t want to have to use our services, but damn you’re glad to have them when things are tough.

If you’re not already a HABA member, sign up by clicking the button in the header. If you were a HABA member, but your membership has lapsed, please email us on and let’s get you back in the good books.



Our advisers are ready to answer your questions. For advice on this topic, or any other workplace relations matter, please call the HABA Advice Line on 02 9221 9911.





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