Position: Amend AB5 to include "BBC licensees in good standing."

July 4th, 2019

To the Honorable Senator Jerry Hill (Chair)
Senator Mike Morrell (Vice Chair)
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
Senator Holly J. Mitchell
Senator Richard Pan
Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez
Gideon Baum, Consultant
Martha Gutierrez, Committee Assistant

Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee
Legislative Office Building (LOB)
1020 N Street, Room 545
Sacramento, CA 95814

Position: Amend Assembly Bill 5 to include all “BBC licensees in good standing.”

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 not exclude the license categories of Electrologists, Estheticians and Manicurists.

All license categories should be considered equal under the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

All license categories are required to work under the regulation of the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC), an agency of the Department of Consumer Affairs. We cannot provide beauty services for compensation to consumers without this license and it’s set scopes of practice and regulations.

The license categories are broken out as follows:
1927 the Board is established with Cosmetology and Barbering license categories.
1939 Manicurist and Electrology specific license categories are added.
1978 Esthetician license is added.

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

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 and as such, trafficking and exploitation should be addressed in criminal code, not in professional licensing regulation.

What the public and lawmakers don’t know: lack of viable employment options for licensees.

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

The reality is that salons and spas don’t hire people. Misclassification of employees is a systemic issue in the beauty industry and is not exclusive to the manicurist license category. At this time, the beauty industry is not sophisticated enough to support an employee-based salon/spa environment, acting in full compliance with traditional employment laws. It is much easier for these salon/spa entrepreneurs to “rent” and collect income from licensed beauty professionals that wish to be part of these teams. While solo-suites operating with a single beauty professional and their own establishment license are part of the modern micro-salon/spa environments, the rental and leasing rates of this scenario are cost prohibitive for many, as these franchises have exploited the Dynamex ruling to their favor.  

Further, as proposed, this bill would stop our ability to lend a hand to those exploited workers, our peers, that are cited by the author’s comment above. Imagine discovering that your favorite manicurist was in a non-compliant labor situation or other dangerous work scenario. What if you had knowledge and contacts that would allow for this manicurist to move to the safe harbor of a really nice establishment that is interested in having a manicurist as part of their team, but wasn’t ready to take on an employee? Your manicurist has the talent, the supplies and the client base to survive in a rental environment, but their license classification isn’t included in the AB5 exemption. Our ability and desire to help those in need of a way out of exploitation will be impeded by the language inequality of AB5.

From a beauty industry licensee’s perspective, AB 5, as proposed, is an impractical solution to the Dynamex issue.

Beauty professionals that are not Cosmetologists or Barbers will be left with no protections that are typically extended to those that are employees.

Beauty professionals are in rental and lease agreements with establishments. The establishment license holder would be held accountable for employee misclassification, as we fail the Dynamex “B” test and provide services that are part of the usual course of business for a salon/spa. These establishments will cancel these rental and lease agreements in order to protect the establishment’s interests. And this will displace licensed beauty professionals; forcing them to close down their small businesses or further drive them underground into performing services illegally in unregulated environments, such as their own homes, client homes and offices.

Dual licensed Esthetician + Manicurists = 18,412 of 88,037
Dual licensed Esthetician + Electrologists = 315 of 1,722

Dually licensed beauty professionals often perform multiple services in one appointment all the time. It is not practical for these professionals to start a facial service, then stop and move to their place of employment, clock in and continue with a manicure, for example. Not only would this be an accounting confusion, but it’s not what’s best for the consumer experience and their safety.

Importantly, the future of beauty professions has not been considered by the authors of this bill. In Sunset and other BBC proceedings, the topic of “Waxing”, “Lash Technician” and “Hairstylist” niche licensing has been in consideration for the future. Many beauty professionals prefer to specialize in these services only and have no desire to provide all the services under the established scopes of practice. If AB5 is implemented with narrow language that only includes “hairstyling (sic: cosmetology) and barbering services,” California law would have to be changed in this particular Assembly Bill to accommodate progress. Using the language “BBC licensee in good standing” allows for the profession to adapt to technology and trend without legislative interaction.

California is the nation’s focus for progressive lawmaking.

What happens here in California is scrutinized and adopted by the rest of the nation. Not only do they look to California for progress, but they look to us for fairness. The beauty profession is under attack of deregulation nationwide, because as many arguments have been vocalized “we all wash our hair at home and we don’t need a license.” What we provide in salon and spa environments is not just a normal 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 above that are extremely detrimental to small business owners in California, in the end inclusivity is fairness and progress, exclusivity is not.

Position: Amend Assembly Bill 5 to include all “BBC licensees in good standing.”


Wendy Jacobs Cochran, LE/COE
California Aesthetic Alliance


Wendy Jacobs