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going from booth renting to employee, how to deal with the lack of freedom?
I know the subject of employee vs booth renter vs independent contractor has been discussed often on this forum and I've read any old threads on the issue that I could find, but every situation is unique and I would really like some input on mine. This is partly a rant, partly a cry for advice, so please bear with me and I apologize in advance for how lengthy I'm sure this is bound to get!!

I just moved to a new state. I've booth rented for years, but when I moved back in February I decided to take my first Non-booth renting position. Before I explain my problem, let me just say that (so far) I LOVE this salon, everyone has been extremely welcoming and friendly. All of the workers in the salon get along great, there's no drama, and there's a great atmosphere and tight-knit sense of comraderie, which is something I have never experienced working in the salon industry. I am the only nail tech working in the salon with 7 hair stylists, an esthetician (she is the owner) and a massage therapist and they've all been great about referring clients to me.

That being said, I'm kind of confused about my position. The salon owner is calling me an "independent contractor". I am being paid 50% commission, and using my own product and tools. However, she is requiring me to work certain hours and I am not allowed to work outside of HER working hours, which is only 3 days a week. All of the booth renters in the salon can work whenever they want. She is also requiring me to do her nails every 2 weeks and a pedi once a month for free as part of our "agreement", even though we have no actual written contracts or lease agreements on paper.

Now, I will say that I accepted this position under the impression that commission employee's get paid an hourly wage if commission works out to be less than minimum wage for hours worked. However, I was disappointed to find out that this law doesn't apply in my new state. That being said, until now, this arrangement has still worked out mostly due to the fact that I was desperate for a job and couldn't find another salon in the area that was hiring for any non-booth renting positions. But, now I'm starting to have trouble making ends meet. I am only booking 2 or 3 appointments a day. This is unusual for me, as I am fairly good at promoting myself. I left behind a wonderful, full clientele, which I built from scratch. But she does not want me to use any of the marketing strategies that have proved successful for me in the past (like referral cards and coupons/discounts). Also, I normally hand out business cards everywhere and that has always worked out great for me, but I am still waiting for cards after 2 months. She puts in an order for business cards for the entire salon at the same time in order to get a bulk discount, and since nobody else is ready to order, I am stuck waiting. I've offered to pay the difference to order my cards separately so I get them asap but she won't let me do this. In a fit of desperation, I ordered some "generic" cards (without the salon logo or their template), with just my name and contact info (I used my cell phone, not the salon phone number) but she won't let me hand them out in the salon -- and since I am required to book appointments through the salon's central booking software, its kind of pointless to hand out a card without their phone number on it anyway. I also talked to her about the possibility of finding a second job and she told me she will not be willing to let me work around another schedule.

I'm kind of at a loss of what to do, on one hand, I really like this salon and I want to be successful here... On the other hand, I feel very limited and held back by not being a booth renter (something I can't afford to do right now), and maybe even taken advantage of as an "independent contractor".... What would you do?
If you are an independent contractor, that means you do not run your business primarily from the salon's location, which means you can work elsewhere, assuming there is not an exclusivity clause in your contract.

If you have agreed to these terms, then yes, you can still be a contractor - you signed the contract, after all - but you do have the right to re-negotiate if it's not working out for you. And if you are a true independent contractor, you need to act like a business owner. You need to get your own liability insurance, maintain your own bookkeeping, bill the salon for your services, file taxes, etc.

Having set hours does not mean you are an employee, which I see people say quite a bit - there are several other factors that go into determining your employment status. It sounds like you are in the huge gray-area of whether you are a contractor or a true employee. This is regulated by both the IRS and OSHA, so contact them to determine your status.
1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
I'm sorry - I just re-read your post. You do not have a contract in place - I don't know how I totally missed that before. You are doing yourself a disservice by not having a contract - this is what outlines your agreement so you do not have all of these questions. It sounds like you are working under terms you do not agree with, and obviously at a rate you can't live on. I suggest getting a contract in place asap (that you agree to) or looking for someplace else to work.

If you are an independent contractor, you need to act like a business owner, as I said before. Don't let this salon owner bully you into a vague verbal agreement. Your contract should state the hours you will work for her and at what rate. If you want to work outside of those hours, that is your right to do so. If she does not agree to it, then you are definitely not working as a contractor, you are an employee; although it is reasonable for her to expect for you not to market your other business in her salon or to ask that you not work within the same neighborhood.

Overall, it sounds like you know you're getting the short end of the stick in this arrangement. You can either address it or move on.
I would say you either need to work all this out, or RUN! I can't think of the world in which it would be okay for her to require you to do her nails for free, especially if you're not getting an hourly wage.

Since you have no contract, I would 1) figure out what you don't like and what you think would be a fair solution, and 2) sit her down and hammer out a written agreement that you will both be happy with. If she's not willing to do that then it doesn't matter how good the atmosphere is. Under no circumstances would I personally ever agree to give three services a month away for free! Hope you can work it out!
Nail Tech/Owner
Sounds to me like you are being taken advantage of ...maybe you could bide some time to establish yourself in your new town/state, but I don't like the sounds of things for you NY, an independent contractor is just that - you may have to follow a few guidelines laid out for the salon as a whole but it sounds like this lady wants to own you. If you are offering a service that not a lot of people are offering in your new area, I am sure you will do great on your own ...I know this takes a little investment. Commission is dicey thing w/o an hourly wage ...some salons have been known to skirt the law on this matter - if you aren't being paid a base rate - no one owns you least in NYS. I'd be leary about signing any contract with this salon ...just my 2 cents
the best things in life, aren't things ...

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