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How Professional Are You?

By Fred Jones, PBFC Legal Counsel and holding booth renters accountable for
their legal and financial obligations, but this
The Professional Beauty Federation of realization should really begin and end with
California (PBFC) is a state-based, non- each of you, as licensed professionals. Take a
profit trade association with the singular goal moment to consider:
of raising professionalism in our industry. • Are you an employee or a separately
PBFC represents California’s beauty product contracted booth renter?
manufacturers, distributors, students, schools, • Do you buy and maintain your own equip-
independent and chain salon owners, and ment and products?
individual licensees. • Do you pay for and exercise control over
As Legal Counsel and registered Lobby- your workspace?
ist for the PBFC for the last decade, I have • Do you set your own hours and maintain
had the privilege of speaking for all of you to your own appointment and financial books?
those charged with governing our State and • Do you pay for your own advertisement?
industry. I am proud to have been your voice • Do you maintain and pay for your own
through PBFC helping foment the dynamic individual professional and general liability
change that has come to the beauty industry in insurance coverage or health care benefits?
Sacramento. These are all criteria used by regulators
There is no doubt in my mind that beauty to determine whether you are, in fact and by
and barbering is the most grassroots, entre- law, an independent sole proprietor operating
preneurial industry in California, made up of within a licensed establishment (i.e., Booth
the women and men who perform personal Renter), or an employee to the salon owner.
beauty services on trusting clientele; it is you, Depending on which they determine you
the beauty professional, who are the heart and are, you or the establishment owner could be
soul of our industry. saddled with severe financial penalties, fines,
In the hair salon world, most of our and back-taxes, not to mention civil liabilities
licensees work in a booth rental setting. Those from harmed clients if you are not correctly
in nails are primarily employer-employee or abiding by applicable employment law.
independent contractor based. Many salons For the past couple decades, many beauty
have a mixture of commission, independent schools have not been able to spend much
contractor, rental and employment arrange- time on legal and business realities with their
ments. Regardless of the official category, we students, so it is not surprising that so many
are all in the same industry boat. When a single licensees are not aware of these serious issues
licensee harms one of those trusting clients, the and consequences. In defense of the schools,
sinking tide of bad PR and negativity toward out-dated and overly micromanaged State
the beauty industry lowers us all. It is impor- Board curriculum mandates have inhibited
tant we all strive to maintain the very highest their ability to spend adequate time on this
ethical, professional and safety standards. instruction; however, the State Board has
One of the first bills PBFC sponsored re-examined the license curriculum require-
eight years ago, now law, requires all State ments and are in the process of reforming
Board licensees to identify themselves on their school curricula to offer schools more latitude
license renewal form as either an employer, to teach more modern-day trends, techniques,
employee, or booth renter/independent technologies and business to their students.
contractor. The intent of this law was to Whether you are a booth renter or em-
encourage all of our professional stylists to ployee, all licensees have a legal and moral
consider exactly who they were within their obligation to adhere to the health and safety
individual salons, so that all of us would be laws regulating our industry, for the benefit
reminded of our individual business roles and and protection of our trusting clients. If
health and safety responsibilities. you have chosen the entrepreneurial and
Booth rental has swept throughout the self-determinative path of renting your
country like wildfire and has provided unpar- workspace, be cognizant of your additional
alleled opportunities for business ownership. ethical, legal and tax responsibilities to
This entrepreneurial spirit helps drive our in- city/county officials (e.g., business permits
dustry, but as with any business venture, there and/or licensing), State Board regulators,
are responsibilities that come with being your and State and Federal taxing agencies. With
own boss. As a booth renter, the law consid- the opportunities and freedom afforded a
ers you a sole proprietorship (self-employed), booth renter to be her/his own boss come
charged with all of the legal, tax and regulatory the responsibilities of all other legitimate
obligations of any stand-alone business; this independent businesses; we must all live up
is the law, even though you may be operating to these responsibilities to be able to truly
within a separately licensed establishment. call ourselves professionals.
The IRS, Franchise Tax Board, State
Legislature and State Board are grappling with For information about the PBFC, visit To learn more
various approaches to driving this point home about how today’s laws affect you and your business, visit