By PRISCILLA PEREZ
New York nail salon owners have until Tuesday to obtain wage payment bonds as ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his effort to stop underpayment of manicurists and health hazards.
By Oct. 6, New York State will require the businesses to have insurance to protect nail specialists, with the amount based on the number of licensed employees. The Nail Salon Workers’ Bill of Rights has to be publicly displayed in the business, and proper eye and hand protectants must be used and worn by all workers.
In May, The New York Times exposed the conditions that underpaid workers face, sparking a state investigation and the changes that Cuomo demanded.
Since then owners and their workers, mostly Chinese or Korean, have rallied against the mandated bonds. The Korean American Nail Salon Association of New York and the Chinese Nail Salon Association of East America filed suit against the regulations at State Supreme Court in Albany.
Former nail salon owner Lina Tang says that even though strict health regulations are good for both the business and the customer, the new requirement for wage bonds will hurt struggling businesses.
“Right now we are still in this summer busy season,” Tang said. “But for the rest of the season there is not that much business until the holidays. It’s hard for the owner because then they don’t make that much money. Business could be quiet but you still have to pay your employees.”
Tang now works as a manicurist and esthetician at Color Arts Salon & Spa in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn where she proudly says all of the state’s regulations are followed.
But she said that even busy salons may not be profitable.
“Let’s say you’re paying $22 for a manicure and pedicure. But in other places they may charge $15,” she said. “Even though that salon is now busy, they still don’t make a lot of money. That price is too low especially when the rent may be the same between the one who charges more and the one who doesn’t.”
Salons are at risk of being closed if they do not follow proper guidelines and mandates. The Korean American Nail Salon Association of New York and the Chinese Nail Salon Association of East America estimate that 30 percent of nail-industry businesses will close due to insufficient funds for the bonds.