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The Salon Assistant

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

About the author:

LeeAnn Miley is a salon owner based in Hastings, Nebraska, and the President and Executive Director of The Sovereign Stylist. Her personal experiences led her to advocate and educate stylists on proper worker classification. LeeAnn’s blogs are typically focused on tax compliance, worker classification, and general business practices. LeeAnn believes that laws and business are powerful entities when one has knowledge of them and has dedicated herself to spreading such knowledge to the industry she loves.

Are salon assistants employees or independent contractors?

First, let me set the record straight on types of workers. According to the IRS, there are 2 types of workers, employees or independent contractors. (1) “Under common-law rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”(2) “The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done”(3) Now we will now define what an assistant is & their job responsibilities. A salon assistant, helps a lead stylist or booth/suite renter with their daily tasks. Responsibilities and duties may include gathering supplies, mixing colors, shampooing hair, sterilizing tools, and general cleaning. Some assistants also greet clients and schedule appointments. You can work as a salon assistant to gain experience while going through cosmetology school, although some states require you to pass a licensing exam before becoming a salon assistant. (4) An assistant reports to the stylists who hires them. They follow a schedule set by the lead stylists, take direction from the stylist, take the stylist’s lead, may be required to take weekly classes taught by stylists, shadow stylists & may be required to obtain additional education outside of the salon.(5)(6) Next I will run the salon assistant through the IRS 20 factor test (7): 1. Instructions- A worker who is required to comply with other persons’ instructions about when, where, and how he or she is to work is ordinarily an employee. The control factor is present if the person or persons for whom the services are performed have the right to require compliance with instruction. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 2. Training- Training a worker by requiring an experienced employee to work with the worker, by corresponding with the worker, by requiring the worker to attend meetings, or by using other methods, indicates that the person or persons for whom the services are performed want the services performed in a particular method or manner. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 3. Integration- Integration of the worker’s services into the business operations generally shows that the worker is subject to direction and control. When the success or continuation of a business depends to an appreciable degree upon the performance of certain services, the workers who perform those services must necessarily be subject to a certain amount of control by the owner of the business. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 4. Services Rendered Personally- If the services must be rendered personally, presumably the person or persons for whom the services are performed are interested in the methods used to accomplish the work as well as the results. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 5. Hiring, Supervising & Paying Assistants- If the person or persons for whom the services are performed hire, supervise, and pay assistants, that factor generally shows control over the workers on the job. However, if one worker hires, supervises, and pays the other assistants pursuant to a contract under which the worker agrees to provide materials and labor and under which the worker is responsible only for the attainment of a result, this factor indicates an independent contractor status. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 6. Continuing Relationship- A continuing relationship between the worker and the person or persons for whom the services are performed indicated that an employer-employee relationship exists. A continuing relationship may exist where work is performed at frequently recurring although irregular intervals. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 7. Set Hours of Work- The establishment of set hours of work by the person or persons for whom the services are performed is a factor indicating control. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 8. Full Time Required- If the worker must devote substantially full time to the business of the person or persons for whom the services are performed, such person or persons have control over the amount of time the worker spends working and impliedly restrict the worker from doing other gainful work. An independent contractor, on the other hand, is free to work when and for whom he or she chooses. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 9. Doing Work on Employer’s Premises- If the work is performed on the premises of the person or persons for whom the services are performed, that factor suggests control over the worker, especially if the work could be done elsewhere. Work done off the premises of the person or persons receiving the services, such as the office of the worker, indicates some freedom from control. However, this fact by itself does not mean that the worker is not an employee. The importance of this factor depends on the nature of the service involved and the extent to which an employer generally would require that employees perform such services on the employer’s premises. Control over the place of work is indicated when the person or persons for whom the services are performed have the right to compel the worker to travel a designated route, to canvass a territory within a certain time, or to work at specific places as required. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 10. Order or Sequence Set- If a worker must perform services in the order or sequence set by the person or persons for whom the services are performed, that factor shows that the worker is not free to follow the worker’s own pattern of work but must follow the established routines and schedules of the person or persons for whom the services are performed. Often, because of the nature of an occupation, the person or persons for whom the services are performed do not set the order of the services or set the order infrequently. It is sufficient to show control, however, if such person or persons retain the right to do so. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 11. Oral or Written Reports- A requirement that the worker submit regular oral or written reports to the person or person for whom the services are performed indicates a degree of control. Does not apply 12. Payment by the Hour, Week, Month- Payment by the hour, week, or month generally points to an employer-employee relationship, provided this method of payment is not just a convenient way of paying a lump sum agreed upon as the cost of a job. Payment made by the job or on a straight commission generally indicates that the worker is an independent contractor. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 13. Payment of Business &/or Traveling Expenses- If the person or persons for whom the services are performed ordinarily pay the worker’s business and/or traveling expenses, the worker is ordinarily an employee. An employer, to be able to control expenses, generally retains the right to regulate and direct the worker’s business activities. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 14. Furnishing Tools & Materials- The fact that the person or persons for whom the services are performed furnish significant tools, materials, and other equipment tends to show the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 15. Significant Investment- If the worker invests in facilities that are used by the worker in performing services and are not typically maintained by employees (such as the maintenance of an office rented at fair value from an unrelated party), that factor tends to indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. On the other hand, lack of investment in facilities indicates dependence on the person or persons for whom the services are performed for such facilities and, accordingly, the existence of an employer- employee relationship. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 16. Realization of Profit or Loss- A worker who can realize a profit or suffer a loss as the result of the worker’s services (in addition to the profit or loss ordinarily realized by employees) is generally an independent contractor, but the worker who cannot is an employee. For example if this worker is subject to a real risk of economic loss due to significant investments or a bona fide liability for expenses, such as salary payments to unrelated employees, that factor indicates that the worker is an independent contractor. The risk that a worker will not receive payment for his or her services, however, is common to both independent contractors and employees and thus does not constitute a sufficient economic risk to support treatment as an independent contractor. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 17. Working for More Than One Firm at a Time- If a worker performs more than

de minimis services for a multiple of unrelated persons or firms at the same time, that factor generally indicates that the worker is an independent contractor. However, a worker who performs services for more than one person may be an employee of each of the persons, especially where such persons are part of the same service arrangement. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 18. Making Service Available to the General Public-The fact that a worker makes his or her services available to the general public on a regular and consistent basis indicates an independent contractor relationship. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 19. Right to Discharge- The right to discharge a worker is a factor indicating that the worker is an employee and the person possessing the right is an employer. An employer exercises control through the threat of dismissal, which causes the worker to obey the employer’s instruction. An independent contractor, on the other hand, cannot be fired so long as the independent contractor produces a result that meets the contract specifications. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. 20. Right to Terminate- If the worker has the right to end his or her relationship with the person for whom the services are performed at any time he or she wishes without incurring liability, that factor indicates an employer-employee relationship. Answer: Applies, salon assistant is an employee. In conclusion, an assistant is not an independent contractor, they are an employee. They should not receive a tax form 1099-misc, they should receive a W-2. (1) https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-self-employed-or-employee (2) https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employee-common-law-employee (3)https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-defined (4)https://www.ziprecruiter.com/e/What-Does-a-Salon-Assistant-Do (5)https://work.chron.com/being-hairstylist-assistant-15470.html (6)https://www.modernsalon.com/article/7253/how-to-be-the-best-salon-assistant-ever (7)https://www.thisuglybeautybusiness.com/2014/05/the-20-factor-irs-test-why-independent.html


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