Governor Cuomo Cracks Down on Worker Abuse
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that nail salon owners will be required to secure a wage bond within the next 60 days or they will face newly enacted fines and penalties, which could include the closure of their business for not complying. Also, unlicensed nail salon workers will be able to register now free of charge for the nail specialty trainee program. The wage bond requirement and trainee program are two integral pieces of the comprehensive package of industry reforms recently introduced to protect nail salon workers.
“We will not stand for the exploitation of workers in the state of New York, plain and simple,” Governor Cuomo said. “This administration will not tolerate abuse in any industry – it’s simply not who New York is – and today we are taking another step forward to protect the dignity and rights of nail salon employees across the state.”
In May, Governor Cuomo announced the Nail Salon Task Force to lead a multi-pronged effort to reform the nail salon industry in New York State. The efforts have included statutory, regulatory and administrative changes.
Enforcement of the New Wage Bond Requirement
The Governor recently signed legislation that included enhanced fines and penalties for owners who fail to comply with the new wage bond requirements. In accordance with the law’s provisions, the Department of State will enforce these penalties as of October 6, 2015 — the 60th day following issuance of a letter by the Department of Financial Services certifying the ready availability of the bond.
Generally, the size of the wage bond that an owner will be required to obtain will depend on the number of hours of nail services provided by nail practitioners in the nail salon, as reflected below:
At least $25,000, if a business employs the equivalent of two to five full time individuals who provide nail specialty services
At least $40,000, if a business employs the equivalent of six to ten full time individuals who provide nail specialty services
At least $75,000, if a business employs the equivalent of 11 to 25 full time individuals who provide nail specialty services
At least $125,000, if a business employs the equivalent of 26 or more full time individuals who provide nail specialty services.
Evidence of sufficient liability coverage and of the wage bond must be maintained by nail salon owners and made accessible to all workers at all times that the business is open.
In the event that the owner’s insurance agent is unable to assist with the purchase of the bond, the owner is advised to seek the assistance of an agent experienced in surety bonds. A list of surety bond professionals, organized by area, can be obtained by visiting the website of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers at www.nasbp.org. In addition, a list of agents and brokers selling wage bonds is listed on the Department of Financial Services web site, www.dfs.ny.gov.
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.
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.
Advocates and community groups are assisting with the distribution of applications and information and overall outreach on this initiative.
Anyone who is concerned about proper wages and safe working conditions should visit www.ny.gov/nailsalonsafety or contact the Task Force Hotline at (888) 469-7365.
For specific questions regarding the nail specialty trainee registration, please visit www.dos.ny.gov/nailspectrainee.html or contact the Division of Licensing Services at (518) 474-4429.
Comprehensive Package of Reforms
Governor Cuomo’s other nail salon industry reforms include:
Personal Protective Equipment and Ventilation Requirements: Owners must provide adequate supplies of appropriate protective equipment, such as masks and gloves. Regulations regarding new ventilation standards for nail salons have been posted for public comment.
Health Review of Chemical Agents: Supplementing the regulatory changes relating to products used in Nail Salons, the Department of Health will consult with and review scientific information from federal agencies, including the United States Environmental Protection, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to determine the full extent of the knowledge of potential adverse effects of the potentially hazardous chemicals used in nail salons and the levels of exposure that have been shown to occur.
Bill of Rights: Nail Salons are required to post, in a place visible to all employees and the public, the Nail Salon Workers’ Bill of Rights, which, in plain language, notifies workers of their rights to a legal wage and a safer working environment.
Cease and Desist Postings: This regulation requires any business that receives a “Cease and Desist” hearing notice to post such notice in the window of the establishment so that it is readily viewable by the public.
Exploited Worker Task Force
Helping nail salon workers is the first step in the Governor Cuomo’s effort to root out worker exploitation in a number of industries throughout New York State. The Governor’s Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation, comprised of 10 State agencies, will focus its enforcement efforts on industries with the highest rates of employer non-compliance and where workers are least likely to come forward, for fear of retaliation.
Industries were selected based on the geographic or community isolation of the workforce within the industry; danger of the occupation based on reported death rates; state investigator experiences; prevalence of off-the-books employment; and percentage of immigrant workers.
from link: hudsonvalleynewsnetwork.com
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