June 18, 2015
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie yesterday announced that a three-way agreement has been reached on legislation that protects and supports workers in nail salons. The legislation authorizes the Department of State to shut down businesses that violate the law and establishes new opportunities for individuals to work while studying for their licensing exam.
“With this agreement, we are sending a message that exploitation in the workplace will not be tolerated in the State of New York,” said Governor Cuomo. “This legislation allows the State to crack down on bad actors in the nail salon industry and hold them accountable. It also streamlines the licensing process for workers so they can get the training they need to move forward professionally without being held hostage to their employers. Our actions will make the nail salon industry safer and fairer, and I am proud that New York is standing up to protect workers who cannot protect themselves.”
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, “This legislation continues New York’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that its businesses foster a safe and healthy environment for both workers and consumers. I thank the Governor, Senator Venditto and our colleagues in the Assembly for helping us reach an agreement on this bill."
“It is our duty to pass legislation that ensures the safety and welfare of all New Yorkers,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “Employees in all fields who are untrained, mistreated or underpaid deserve our support as we work to strengthen our economy and build a better, more equal New York.”
Senator Michael Venditto, Chair of the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection, said, “This legislation strikes the right balance by protecting the employees of nail salons from exploitation as well as our consumers. It requires the registration of a new class of employees who are going to be called nail specialty trainees. By giving employees the proper training and protecting them from unsafe working conditions we can in turn give our consumers peace of mind."
“Nail salon workers, like many people in low wage positions, can suffer exploitation that puts themselves and others at risk. While this is not a problem in all salons, statewide regulations are vital to ensuring the health and wellbeing of both the workers and patrons of nail salons,” said Assemblymember Ron Kim. “This legislation not only establishes those regulations, but also provides salon workers and operators with the training and resources they need to be successful.”
Many nail salon employees endure unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices. Inadequate ventilation, lack of personal protective equipment, non-payment of wages, nonexistent worker’s compensation coverage, missing business liability insurance, and the unlicensed operation of facilities jeopardize the health and safety of employees and patrons alike. The agreement ensures the state’s ability to act swiftly in order to protect the public and provide employee justice by establishing:
Authority to Shut Down Businesses that Violate the Law: The legislation authorizes the Department of State to take immediate actions against a business that is not following the law. The Department may shut down a business by ordering the cessation of unlicensed or uninsured activities, and increases financial penalties for violations.
Traineeship for Workers: The legislation establishes new opportunities for unlicensed nail practitioners to register with the State as trainees, instead of relying on often prohibitively high cost education programs, so they may continue to work while studying for their licensing exam. With this tool, workers can more effectively obtain relevant training and explore opportunities in the industry without being held hostage to any employer.
Further, all nail salon workers are given access to the full range of resources available through the Department of Labor to find a job.
The legislation complements administrative and regulation changes announced by Governor Cuomo earlier this year. It supports the work of Governor Cuomo’s multi-agency task force, which has enforcement teams in the field to recover stolen wages and shut down the industry’s worst offenders, and a multilingual public outreach campaign targeted toward workers, employers and customers to ensure that all are educated on their rights, duties and responsibilities.