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Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association


Posted August 28, 2017

Salon owners must be very careful to indenture or bring on apprentices correctly to ensure that they are protected against under-payment claims from staff. HABA have spoken before about a range of issues surrounding apprentices and their wages, but just as important are the obligations of salon owners to apprentices and their entitlements.

If a salon owner is advertising for and bringing on an apprentice, they must be correctly set up – including registration of the apprentice with an RTO like TAFE or any of the Private Providers – before they can be paid as a 1st year apprentice. An employee can only be paid apprentice pay rates if they have a formal training contract with their employer, and this training has to be registered and recognised by a state or territory training organisation.

In some instances, a salon owner may want to trial a junior employee before committing to an apprenticeship, which is a completely reasonable course of action. In this instance, you must legally be paying the employee as a Salon Assistant. We are seeing an increase in the number of salons, however, who are taking the incorrect course of action and are instead putting an employee on a trial period before apprenticeship and only paying them the same apprentice rates – opening themselves up to legal action. Why not put an apprentice on immediately with the option to have a probation period extended from three to six months?

The hourly rate of pay is dramatically different between an apprentice and a salon assistant.
For example, if you were to take on a 17-year-old who DID complete Year 12, their pay rate as an apprentice is $11.71 per hour (Monday to Friday) and $15.57 per hour (Saturday).

However, if they are not signed up to a training contract, then they must be paid as a salon assistant at a rate of $15.06 per hour (Monday to Friday) and $20.03 per hour (Saturday).

This significant difference, built up over a 3-month trial period of regular salon hours, can be thousands of dollars in underpayment – which exposes salon owners to an underpayment claim. Not only that, but you will also find that if you are having this employee carrying out chemical procedures to client’s hair and cutting hair that there may be an insurance concern.

To put it simply, unless a junior staff member is indentured, then they are to be paid as a Level 1 salon assistant and NOT under apprentice wage rates until the training contract is signed. Don’t make a simple mistake that may cost your business thousands.

For more advice on setting up your apprentices correctly, check out other posts from our blog. Alternatively, HABA members have access to unlimited advice via our phone service, so call HABA today on (02) 9221 9911 and stay safe and informed.

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