NY Governor Implements Emergency Measures for Nail Salons

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking swift action in response to the dark, unethical underbelly of the city’s massive nail salon industry revealed through a recent New York Times series. The 2-part investigative report details the hardship and burden many of these workers experience in their employment at these salons. On May 17, Cuomo ordered a number of emergency regulations and measures in an effort to combat the unreasonable working conditions facing workers in the nail salon industry, primarily focusing on work theft and hazardous health standards.

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The Issue

The New York Times report uncovers a laundry list of problems mostly affecting the livelihoods of the salon employees. First and foremost is the underpayment of these workers ranging from mild (below minimum wage) to severe (not compensated at all for time worked). Since nail salon workers can receive tips, salon owners are not required to pay their employees the minimum wage. However, if the tips they receive combined with their base salary do not combine to equal the minimum wage, the owner would be required to provide them with supplemental pay to compensate for the difference. The issue is, owners are either withholding this supplemental pay from their employees or refusing to distribute the tips earned by their employees. Even further, many owners simply refuse to pay for overtime with some individuals logging 10-12 hour days and 60+ hour weeks in some cases.

A primary cause of this underpayment is the relatively low prices for treatments and services with New York City charging well below the national average. The low prices set by owners takes a toll on the paycheck for their employees. Whereas in other areas higher prices enable owners to compensate their employees more generously, the lower profits in New York City restrict the options of many owners. The low prices can be attributed to the proliferation of nail salons in the city over the last 15-20 years prompting greater competition. The number of salons more than tripled to nearly 2,000 spanning 1997-2012. It has the most salons per capita by a significant margin with its closest competitors containing about half the amount of salons per capita. To continue to drive business and stay afloat, many owners are forced to slash prices on services.

An additional troubling concern is the method for which new employees get started at many nail salons. Since many manicurists are immigrants who cannot legally work in the country, they are desperate for any source of income. Nail salon owners are often cognizant of their situation and take advantage accordingly. They have charged these immigrants a fee for them to learn various crafts of the industry when they first hire them. The new employees work for a while (generally a few months) before they start receiving wages. Owners will typically justify this practice claiming it’s proper compensation for training them in a trade. However, it is illegal for individuals to pay employers to hire them, which is what is happening here. What makes matters worse for many of these immigrants is their inability to speak or understand English. They are oftentimes not even aware of what is and is not legal, and even if they did know, their illegal statuses create a stifling backdrop for leveraging fair work treatment. In essence, they are illegally working in the U.S. and completely susceptible to exploitation.

Another central concern raised in this series revolves around the health of manicurists and their children. There has been significant discussion regarding the health hazards posed by certain chemicals used within the nail salon industry, but officials have been slow to action. The law regulating the chemicals in nail products, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, is more than 75 years old and contains no provisions for health agencies to analyze the effects of chemicals before they hit the shelves. This leaves the workers in a dangerous position, as they have to handle these chemicals extensively and for long periods of time. There have been a few efforts to more strictly regulate these chemicals, but cosmetics industry officials and lobbyists have been able to successfully wield their influence to minimize new regulations. As a result, many manicurists continue to suffer from various respiratory issues and skin disorders, among other health conditions.

Proposed Action

Currently there is an appearance enhancement bond for New York. It includes several disciplines of beauty enhancement, including nail specialty, esthetics, waxing and cosmetology. It was designed to help ensure that owners of these businesses would comply with the law, specifically Article 27 of the General Business Law. The main issues with this bond is the lack of enforcement and the small degree of punishment for violations of the terms of the bond. Businesses that commit violations generally receive a slap on the wrist with a small fine, if they get noticed at all. Governor Cuomo is determined to raise awareness for these violations through the implementation of Task Force Enforcement Teams, which will investigate nail salons throughout the city to ensure sufficient working conditions for manicurists. Businesses that fail to be in compliance with state laws will be unable to continue business operations until further notice. Other proposed regulations include:

  • New bond and insurance requirements
  • Protective equipment and ventilation requirements
  • Health review of chemical agents (Department of Health will conduct review of chemicals used in nail salons and determine if further action needs to be taken)
  • Bill of Rights (Notifies every worker of their right to fair wages and a safe working environment)
  • Cease and Desist postings

In addition to the proposed regulations, Cuomo wants to make several administrative changes for prospective nail salon workers. These include offering the license exams in three additional languages (Nepali, Tibetan & Vietnamese), offering free English classes and providing free training through the Department of State to assist workers who have little to no source of income. The goal with these changes is to educate nail salon employees about their rights and, in the case of immigrants, ease their transition into the American culture. Further, there will be a public education campaign for salon workers, owners and clients alike. This campaign will educate everyone affiliated with the industry about the new regulations, workers’ rights and sources available for these individuals to use effectively.

As more details emerge, we will continue to update and monitor the situation with more descriptive information on the matter. The proposed legislation will have to be approved before any of these regulations can be enacted.

Illinois appraisal management companies subject to surety bond requirement reinforcement

Since becoming effective in August of 2011, the Appraisal Management Company Registration Act has served as a method for establishing and maintaining regulations for appraisal management companies (AMCs). One very important element stated in the Act that has frequently been overlooked by applicants in Illinois is the necessity of posting a $25,000 surety bond as a form of financial security for consumers.

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According to Section 50 of the Act, AMC licenses and surety bonds are supposed to run parallel to each other within the same timeframe. Recent reports have indicated that a shockingly small amount of registered AMCs in Illinois actually abide by that regulation. Obtaining the proper license in order to practice lawful appraisal services is both required and significant, but posting a surety bond also holds equal importance.

Acquiring a license or another form of registration proves to consumers that the AMC has been approved to perform the requested services and is considered to be in good standing with the state. However, it does not necessarily reinforce the protection of consumers against fraudulent or unethical business practices conducted by principals. That is where the purpose of a surety bond comes into play.

By requiring individuals to post a surety bond in order to legally conduct appraisal practices, the Act holds principals accountable to perform services in an honest and respectable manner so that consumers will not suffer financial or other relevant damages committed by the AMC.

A few examples of unprofessional actions that consumers hold immunity against are as follows

  • Failing to maintain appropriate recordkeeping
  • Operating without approved or designated personnel
  • Withholding information about an increase or decrease in property value
  • Requesting a peer appraiser to transmit an unsigned document of assignment results
  • Misrepresentation

For further information or additional examples, please refer to Section 1452.190 of the Act.

Both licenses and bonds should expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. If it is discovered that registered AMCs do not have a surety bond in their possession while practicing, the revocation or cancellation of licenses can result at any time.

SuretyBonds.com prides itself on successfully working one-on-one with clients in order to guarantee the issuance of the bonds they need both quickly and easily. If you are a current or prospective AMC and need to adjust your existing bond or get a new one that is in compliance with these new regulations in the state of Illinois, please contact one of our agents today. We are available 7am-7pm CST Monday through Friday to answer any questions or take your application over the phone for this bond. Call 1 (800) 308-4358 or fill out a bond request form online now.

Senate proposes new surety bond requirement for IN home improvement suppliers

If instated, Indiana Senate Bill 108 would establish a voluntary home improvement supplier registry through the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General.

By creating this registry, individuals that satisfy the State’s requirements would be allowed to register with the division and would then also appear on a listing of home improvement suppliers made available to the general public. One of the registration requirements is that suppliers must post a surety bond.

If this bill becomes a law, the Consumer Protection Division will determine the minimum bond amount that needs to be posted, but the bond may not exceed the penal sum of $25,000.

The purpose of proposing this surety bond requirement is to guarantee a sense of financial safety for consumers. If the principal (supplier) conducts work in an unethical or unprofessional manner, consumers will not suffer any financial damages or unfortunate circumstances as a result of poor workmanship.

In addition to posting a surety bond, the enactment of SB 108 would require individuals who wish to register as a home improvement supplier in Indiana to also fulfill the following requirements:

  • Submit an application allotted by the Division
  • Obtain the proper licenses required by the applicant’s employer
  • Pay all mandatory application and registration fees
  • Handle at least 5 home improvement supplier contracts in a given calendar year

This bill is currently being reviewed by the committee. In the condition that this bill passes and becomes a law, the effective date of new legislation begins July 1, 2015.

If you are considering applying for a home improvement supplier bond in Indiana, Suretybonds.com is here to help. As a team of dedicated and professional surety specialists, we make your bonding needs our number one priority. Call us today at 1 (800) 308-4358 to speak to a surety expert or submit an online bond request form now. We can get you bonded quickly, easily, and accurately!

Photo courtesy of perfectgardeningtips.com.

Scholarship Finalist: Adam Brodnax

From a Junior High Crush to a Bustling Small Business

It’s weird to truly wrap my mind around this platform that I’ve managed to land myself on. As a naïve, inspired boy who stayed up countless hours glued to George Lucas’s latest scene addition to Star Wars, I would have never been able to foretell the twists and turns my own plot took to where I firmly stand now. I am the co-founder of Phamax Productions, a local photography film business. Without it, I would be nothing but a mere speck of dust roaming from place to place.

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Simply so, all adventures must have a starting line and just so, there was plenty of soft chatter prior to this adventure. To be brutally honest, my passion, which had been fabricating in the recesses of my mind for quite some time, was put into practice over a middle school crush I had in seventh grade. To be concise, she liked photography, so naturally I had to be shockingly fantastic at photography. Now fast forward to the beginning of sophomore year, I was in my film class chatting to my best-friend, Kevin, about our upcoming short film project and it spawned on us that we wanted to go bigger than Vegas. Of course with our frugalness, we didn’t want to spend of what little money we had. Since Kevin had gotten into photography and I had sold t-shirts the year before, I felt that we could fund our project by starting our own photography film business. We shook hands and began our journey. As our first action of business, we ran a photo-session giveaway to accomplish two things: Establish our fan base and bolster our portfolio. After the giveaway, we exceeded our expectations by gaining seventy fans and expanding our network. At the end of our first year, Kevin and I had become great partners and gained priceless experiences.Logo Fore White (2)

Then our junior year began and DECA entered our niche. There was a. category called, “Entrepreneurs, Growing Your Business”. The DECA sponsor, Mrs. Ash, highly pushed us to enter Phamax into DECA. We already had big plans for Phamax moving into our second year but DECA allowed us to break past our expectations. We became organized financially, expanded our networks, and most importantly set higher goals so that maybe we would land in the stars. We spent grueling hours working with Mrs. Ash on our business plan critiquing, editing, improving, and defining. We took our souls, sweat, pain, aching lower backs, and our plan all the way to the 2013 DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, CA. After DECA ICDC, we began to put our principles into action to reach our ultimate goal. We went from making only three-hundred dollars in 2012’s first quarter to over two thousand three hundred dollars in 2013’s first quarter. After that, we had high hopes that we could seize our ultimate goal.

 

Photo of BusinessSo what if I hadn’t crushed on this girl in 7th grade? Where would I be? More importantly, who would I be? Phamax Productions has evolved my perception on how I approach my life every day. I have learned that working collaboratively rather than individually opens endless possibilities. I have gained vast amounts of wisdom through my failures. I would never have been able to experience such revolutionary chemistry with one of my best friends. It feels awe-inspiring to be known as Phamax Productions in school, to have people ask for my advice on how they should start their own business and to relive our story of how we manage between school and business. Without Phamax Productions, I would simply not have an identity worth talking about. I would still be a speck of dust floating from room to room with no intentions. Phamax is so central to my identity because it allowed me to venture into the unknown, escape the sheltered school life, and make an impact on my community.

 

This essay was written by Adam Brodnax1 of 10 finalists for the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Adam and the other finalists were selected from more than 1300 applications reviewed by the SuretyBonds.com Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Adam or any of the other finalists, visit the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.

Scholarship Finalist: Amy Quinto

Aaron Siskind once said, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” While I do not shoot in film, photography is one of my most prevalent passions. It is an art form unlike any other. I fully believe that photographs do not only capture images, but moments in time that can be remembered forever.
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You always hear about people who turn their hobbies into careers. I just never thought I would be one of them.I have been taking pictures as a hobby for eight years, but I have only been shooting professionally since June of 2011 when I established my business, AQ Photography. My first photo shoot was of two adorable children that belong to a family friend of mine. Since the photographs turned out so well, I decided to advertise myself as a portrait photographer as well as a freelance photographer. Over the years I have found that I mainly take portraits, but I have also dabbled in weddings, real estate, nature, advertisement, vehicular, and merchandising photography as well.
I want my photographs to be able to change the way people look at the world. Here in the United States, high school girls are placed under so much pressure by society to follow trends and be popular, but they also are subjected to the media telling them that they are not attractive if they are not a size two. This fact has genuinely affected the way that I take photographs. I hold an annual photo shoot entitled “Beautifully Insane” in which girls of all shapes, sizes, and races come together to do take pictures and feel beautiful about themselves, exactly the way that they are. I also have started a collection of photographs that depict the social issues that students face in high school. So far I have captured pictures that represent bullying and eating disorders, and I plan to take more in the near future. While high school students may be told to be nice to their fellow students and lectured at on the dangers of eating disorders, I feel that capturing those issues in a photograph allows the viewer to see that these are not some trivial idea that they are forced to learn in the classroom. I hope that having the world see the consequences first hand can allow the viewer to gain perspective and make good choices in high school.
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In the past four years, I have worked over 400 hours in this profession. I have landed freelance jobs with local boutiques for advertisements, won several Best of Show awards for my photography in the county fair, been selected to exhibit my work in art shows and a museum, and won third-place in the statewide “Got Milk?” photography contest. I was featured as a petite model and as a photographer in a two-page spread of the August 2014 edition of Petite Magnifique magazine, won a student art show merit award, and I have created my own website to showcase my work. Along with advertising on my business’ social media pages on a weekly     basis, I usually photograph at least eight events or portrait sessions a month, and I am also the Student Life photographer at my high school.
Starting up and running my own business has been an extraordinary and fulfilling experience. But, while I have accomplished much in the past four years, I do not participate in photography for the money or the prestige. I do it because I truly love it. In a world in which media is such a huge factor of our lives, I can connect with people through the art of photography. Having this talent has allowed me to not only experience what it is like to have a job, but also to be my own boss. It has taught me responsibility, improved my communication skills, and allowed me to practice management.
Next year I plan to attend a 4-year college, most likely California State University-Chico. I will continue running my business not only through next year, but hopefully for the rest of my life. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far, and I am excited for  what the future holds for me as a photographer.
 This essay was written by Amy Quinto, 1 of 10 finalists for the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Amy and the other finalists were selected from more than 1300 applications reviewed by the SuretyBonds.com Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Amy or any of the other finalists, visit the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.