Information for Nail Salon Workers

TOP Information for Nail Salon Workers
Overview
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In May 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a multi-pronged effort to reform the nail salon industry in New York State. This reform aims to correct and prevent unlawful practices and unsafe working conditions. Governor Cuomo put together a multi-agency Task Force that includes the Department of Labor, Department of State and Department of Health. This Task Force will ensure that the reforms are put into action. The reforms include a comprehensive package of legislation and new emergency regulations, administrative changes, and an outreach campaign to educate workers, businesses and the public.

The below information will help you understand your rights as a worker in the nail salon industry. If you have any questions or need to file a complaint, please call the Task Force Hotline at: 888-469-7365. To report abuse in the nail salon industry, visit the Department of Labor’s website.

For a comprehensive list of nail specialty license requirements, fees, forms, and exam information in many languages, visit the Department of State's website.

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New Safety Requirements
New Safety Requirements
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New Requirements for Salons in New York State:

Equipment Requirements

As of June 15, 2015, the owner of your salon must provide certain safety equipment at each workstation. The owner must give this equipment to you at no cost if you ask: 

  • A properly fitting N-95 or N-100 respirator, approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: You must have the right to access and use a respirator when buffing or filing nails, or when using acrylic powder. 
  • Protective gloves made of nitrile, or another similar non-permeable material for workers with a sensitivity to nitrile gloves: The owner of your salon must have a enough gloves available so that you can use a new pair for each customer. You must have the right to access and wear gloves when handling potentially hazardous chemicals or waste and during cleanup, or when performing any nail service that has a risk of breaking the customer’s skin.
  • Protective eye equipment: You must have the right to access and wear eye protection when preparing, transferring or pouring potentially hazardous chemicals. 

View a list of hazardous chemicals found in nail salon products.

Posting Requirements

The owner of your salon must post a “Bill of Rights” in a place where you and customers can easily view it. You have a right to the protections described on this sign.

Bond or Liability Insurance

The owner of your salon must obtain sufficient accident and professional liability coverage. In addition, if the owner has hired nail specialists that together perform more than 80 hours of nail specialty services per week, the owner is required to purchase and maintain a bond that includes coverage to guarantee your wages. A copy of these policies or bonds must be kept in the salon and be available to all workers during hours when the business is open.

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Becoming a Nail Specialty Trainee
Becoming a Nail Specialty Trainee
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The new trainee registration program, which is overseen by the New York Department of State, allows individuals to work and receive practical training in nail specialty services while studying to take the nail specialist exams. A nail trainee provides nail services in a salon under the supervision of a licensed nail specialist. The business owner is responsible for paying the nail trainee at least the minimum wage and ensuring he or she is adequately supervised during the duration of the traineeship.

Anyone who will be working or is currently working under the supervision of a licensed nail specialist to provide nail services for a fee is entitled to a nail specialty trainee registration, regardless of citizenship or residency status.

Below are the specific provisions within this statute regarding the nail specialty trainee registration:

  • The Nail Specialty Trainee registration is a one-year license with an option for one renewal. During this traineeship, the trainee must work under the supervision of a licensed nail specialist and be employed by a licensed Appearance Enhancement Business.
  • There is no fee for this registration.
  • After the year traineeship, the trainee can upgrade to a Nail Specialty license by completing a 26-hour course of instruction and passing both the written and practical exam. 

Nail specialty trainee applications will be processed at no cost to the applicant and are available here in the following languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Russian, Vietnamese, Nepali and Tibetan.

Read Frequently Asked Questions for Nail Specialty Trainees.

You may submit your nail trainee application to the Department of State by mail or email. Completed applications can be emailed to licensing@dos.ny.gov or mailed to the following address: 

New York State Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
Appearance Enhancement
P.O. Box 22049
Albany, NY 12201-2049

Anyone who is concerned about proper wages and safe working conditions should complete this form or contact the Task Force Hotline at (888) 469-7365. For specific questions regarding the Nail Specialty Trainee registration, please contact the Division of Licensing Services at (518) 474-4429.

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How to Get a License
How to Get a License
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Anyone who is paid to cut, shape or enhance nails of the hands or feet, including applying or removing sculptured or artificial nails, is required by law to have a Nail Specialty license.

To get a license, you must be at least 17 years of age. You do not need to be a citizen of the United States to get this license. The application for this license asks for your social security number and federal tax identification number. If you do not have one of these numbers, you may leave those sections blank and write a note to explain why.

There are three ways you can get a license:

Option 1: Complete 250 hours of Department of State-approved education and pass a written and practical exam. Exams are offered in English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Nepali, Tibetan and Vietnamese.

Option 2: Complete comparable schooling in another state or country and pass both the New York State written and practical exams.

Option 3: Submit proof of having five years of out-of-state experience in an occupation equivalent to nail specialty. This option does not require you to pass the New York State written and practice examinations. 

Equipment Requirements

As of June 15, 2015, the owner of your salon must provide certain safety equipment at each workstation. The owner must give this equipment to you at no cost if you ask:

  • A properly fitting N-95 or N-100 respirator, approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. You must have the right to access and use a respirator when buffing or filing nails, or when using acrylic powder. 
  • Protective gloves made of nitrile, or another similar non-permeable material for workers with a sensitivity to nitrile gloves.  The owner of your salon must have a enough gloves available so that you can use a new pair for each customer. You must have the right to access and wear gloves when handling potentially hazardous chemicals or waste and during cleanup, or when performing any nail service that has a risk of breaking the customer’s skin.
  • Protective eye equipment. You must have the right to access and wear eye protection when preparing, transferring or pouring potentially hazardous chemicals.

Posting Requirements

The owner of your salon must post a “Bill of Rights” in a place where you and customers can easily view it. You have a right to the protections described on this sign.

Bond or Liability Insurance

The owner of your salon must obtain sufficient accident and professional liability coverage. In addition, if the owner has hired nail specialists that together perform more than 80 hours of nail specialty services per week, the owner is required to purchase and maintain a bond that includes coverage to guarantee your wages.  A copy of these policies or bonds must be kept in the salon and be available to all workers during hours when the business is open.

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How to Renew a License
How to Renew a License
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Appearance Enhancement and Barber licenses must be renewed online. To learn how to create this account and claim your license, visit the Department of State’s website.  

Your license expiration date is printed on the license. You are eligible to renew three months prior to the expiration date.

If you do not have an existing account, you will receive your renewal notice via mail three months before your license is due to expire. This notice will contain instructions for creating an account. Once you create an account and claim your record, login and renew your license under the “Manage My Licenses” tab.

To receive renewal notices via email, you must claim your existing records and through the Contact Information Change Amendment, add your email address to your license records. Learn more here.

For more information and instructions on renewing your Appearance Enhancement or Barber license online, download this Quick Online Renewal Instruction Flyer.

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Proper Wages
Proper Wages
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As a nail salon worker, you must be paid for every hour you work. This includes overtime and is true even if you are paid on “commission” or are inexperienced. Wages are calculated each week. 

If you are tipped and make at least the tip amount listed in the chart below, you must make at least the corresponding hourly wage shown:

Location

Low Tip Credit*

First 40 hours per week, at least

After 40 hours per week, at least

High Tip Credit*

First 40 hours per week, at least

After 40 hours per week, at least

NYC – Large Employers (11 or more employees)

$1.95/hour

$11.05/hour

$17.55/hour

$3.20/hour

$9.80/hour

$16.30/hour

NYC – Small Employers (10 or fewer employees)

$1.80/hour

$10.20/hour

$16.20/hour

$2.95/hour

$9.05/hour

$15.05/hour

Long Island and Westchester County

$1.65/hour

$9.35/hour

$14.85/hour

$2.70/hour

$8.30/hour

$13.80/hour

Remainder of New York State

$1.55/hour

$8.85/hour

$14.05/hour

$2.55/hour

$7.85/hour

$13.05/hour

If you are not tipped, you must make these hourly wages:

Location

First 40 hours per week, at least

After 40 hours per week, at least

NYC – Large Employers (11 or more employees)

$13.00/hour

$19.50/hour

NYC – Small Employers (10 or fewer employees)

$12.00/hour

$18.00/hour

Long Island and Westchester County

$11.00/hour

$16.50/hour

Remainder of New York State

$10.40/hour

$15.60/hour

Please note: the numbers above are minimums. If, for example, you are paid at a higher hourly rate than $10.40 (Remainder of NYS), your overtime is calculated at 1.5 times that higher rate. If you are paid at an hourly rate below $10.40, your overtime rate is $15.60 per hour, minus the amount of tip credit used.

*A tip credit allows your employer to use a portion of your tips to cover the minimum wage. If you make less than the minimum required hourly tip amount each week, your employer is not allowed a tip credit.

IMPORTANT: Employers should never take your tips or wages or pay you less than the minimum wage. You should never pay an employer: to apply for a position, to get a job, for training, as punishment, for breakage or any other reason.

 

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Career Services
Career Services
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New York State offers a wide range of job search assistance. Many businesses use our centers to conduct on-site interviews. In addition, job placement specialists there can help you to target your job search.

All services and resources described below are free of charge and are provided to workers through New York State Career Centers. These services are offered in multiple languages.

Career Counseling

Our counselors will help you assess your needs, skills and interests. They will guide you through a step-by-step approach to your job search and help you find out what skills you need to continue working in the nail salon industry or find other employment. Our counselors can also give you valuable local labor market information and wage data to help you in your search.

Resume Development

Expert staff will help you write and design a resume that gets results. We will show you how to tailor your resume for firms that use resume scanning software and how to market your skills on the Internet.

Adult Basic Education/English as a Second Language

We can refer you to free courses to get a high school equivalency diploma and/or to improve your English-language skills.

Career Workshops

You can explore topics in a group setting, including job-search strategies, networking, transferring skills, resume preparation, interview practice and computer skills.

Self-Service Resources

Job seekers can use our personal computers, which have high-speed Internet connections. You’ll learn how to use the Internet to locate jobs. We also have hardware and software for the visually impaired.

We have telephones that allow you to speak privately to prospective employers. There are fax machines and copiers you can use at no charge, as well as a TDD/TTY line.

Training Consultation

We can help identify available short-term training for long-term careers. If you are interested in training opportunities, please speak to a Career Center counselor.

Referrals to Other Community Resources

Career Center staff can provide information about a variety of support services in your local community.

To find your closest Career Center, visit: www.labor.ny.gov/career-center-locator or call: 888-469-7365.

Immigration Services

We can refer you to free or low cost immigration assistance services when you visit a Career Center. You may also call the Office for New Americans hotline at: 1-800 566-7636 or visit: www.newamericans.ny.gov

 

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Resources