OSHA Assistance for Workers and Employers
What is the difference between an Employee and an Independent Contractor for purposes of the Occupational Safety and Health Act?
Why does it matter?
- It doesn’t matter how an individual is labeled by the salon owner. Instead, courts and agencies will look at a list of factors to determine whether you are an employee or independent contractor.
- For example, if you: rent a station at a salon; purchase your own supplies and tools; have your own customers and set your own schedule and appointments; set your own rate and are paid by customers directly; and have your own business license, you may be more likely to be considered an independent contractor.
- However, if: the owner sets the work schedule; you are paid by the hour; the owner or receptionist makes the appointments for all workers; you do not rent the space; the owner sets the rates paid by customers; and you use the owner's tools and equipment, you may be more likely to be considered an employee.
- Employers must provide protection against workplace hazards for their employees; independent contractors are responsible for their own occupational health and safety protection. Employees also have rights to a minimum wage, workers' compensation, and other benefits. Independent contractors do not.
- Just because a salon owner tells you that you are an independent contractor, it does not mean that you are one. And, just because an owner gives you an IRS form 1099 instead of a W-2 does not mean that you are an independent contractor. Salons sometimes misclassify the employment status of their workers to bypass taking protective safety and health measures and also to deny benefits. That is why it is important for you to know the difference between what constitutes an employee and an independent contractor. If you need help, you can contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed and signed into law to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known hazards and dangers. The OSH Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is a federal agency that sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training, and assistance to workers and employers. Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe their employer is not following OSHA standards or if there are hazards in their workplace.
Contact us if you have questions or want to file a complaint. We will keep your information confidential. We are here to help you.
For other helpful worker protection information, such as workers' rights, employer responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers page.
OSHA developed this webpage to give workers and employers useful, up-to-date information on exposure to workplace hazards in nail salons. For additional information on possible workplace hazards in nail salons, or if you have questions about a product that you are using or its MSDS, contact your local OSHA office. Nail salon owners can also contact OSHA's free and confidential Consultation Program to help determine if there are hazards in their workplace. On-site consultations do not result in citations or penalties. To contact OSHA's Consultation Program, visit OSHA's website or call 1-800-321-6742; TTY 1-877-889-5627.
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