SUPPORT IF AMENDED: all BBC licenses should be treated equally

July 10th, 2019


The California Aesthetic Alliance would like to thank you for your consideration regarding correction of language, as proposed May 24, 2019 in Assembly Bill 5. We feel strongly that the corrected language should say “BBC Licensees in good standing” and should not exclude the license categories of Electrologist, Esthetician and Manicurist.

All BBC licenses should be treated equally.

Current population as published May, 2019 by the BBC by license category:
Cosmetologist = 314,367
Barber = 31,225
Manicurist = 130,177
Esthetician = 88,037; 18,412 of which are dual licensed as Manicurists
Electrologist = 1,722; 315 of which are dual licensed as Estheticians
Establishments = 52,228
These numbers do not reflect the significant number of unlicensed providers and establishments.

The “traditional” concept of a salon or spa environment, is the ability for consumers to have a wide range of services under one roof, or “licensed establishment.” Consumers come to these establishments and have their hair cut by a licensed cosmetologist or barber, a facial from an esthetician, permanent hair removal by an electrologist and a manicure from a manicurist; all of which are usually renters in these establishments.

Salons and spas don’t typically hire people; few and far between are the opportunities for legitimate, viable employment in this industry. Misclassification of employees is a systemic problem in the beauty industry and is not exclusive to a singular license category. We do not have the normal protections that are extended to workers, such as disability, family leave, contributions to social security and more. A licensee often will agree to employment, filling out W2 forms, only for the salon owner to pay cash-under-the-table or through peer-to-peer money transfer apps with emojis when it’s time for payroll and “1099 them” in the end.

Despite the efforts of AB 1513 that was implemented in 2016, further codifying existing labor law, it is not unusual to find that many licensees are still “commission only” in these establishments. It’s not unusual under these conditions to have workers come home with a pay check of less than $200 for two 40 hour work weeks. Enforcement hasn’t happened to support this effort of correcting misclassification, and we fear, it will be the same with AB5.

But what if AB5 is enacted and the Electrologists, Estheticians and Manicurists are excluded from the language of the bill and there is an effective plan of enforcement that is rolled out? I can assure you, establishment owners, in order to protect their own interests, will cancel our rental agreements and leases. These cast-aside small businesses don’t often have the means of establishing full brick and mortar salons for a single practitioner and the “salon suites” business models have taken advantage of the Dynamex ruling, doubling and tripling rents over the last 15 months.

In a Facebook message conversation sent to me by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on June 23rd, she explains why not all license categories will be included in the AB5 exemption:

“….Our big heartburn is nail technicians because of the mass worker exploitation among immigrant nail salons. But, we are refining language & estheticians is actually easy. Thanks! Lorena”

California lawmakers should not legislate based on an assumed racial profile of an entire license category and the presumption that they’re part of the exploitation and trafficking problem. Exploitation happens with no regard to established laws; trafficking and exploitation should be addressed in criminal code, not in professional licensing exemptions.

What we provide in these establishments is not just a normal, at home wash-and wear experience. We quite literally have our hands on the collective 39,000,000 consumers of the state of California. While we have stated many instances today that are extremely detrimental to small business owners in California, in the end inclusivity is fairness and progress, exclusivity is not. Thank you again for your time, and we humbly ask that the author and committee correct and amend the language of AB5 to specify “BBC Licensees in good standing” not just “hairstylists and barbers.”