Have you ever worked for a salon owner who refuses to give detailed pay stubs, giving weak excuses for why they can’t?
These excuses may include:
“The system isn’t capable of generating those kinds of reports.”
“I keep all of that on file. Don’t worry about it.”
“I can’t give you computer permissions to see those details.”
and my current favorite: “That is confidential and proprietary business information.”
Let’s take a second to talk about Bafflegab and IJD Technology.
- Bafflegab: overly-complicated language intended to confuse the listener.
- IJD Technology: “It Just Does” technology. For example: “How does faster-than-light travel work?” It Just Does.
In this case, what we have is the opposite of IDJ Technology: “It Just Doesn’t” Technology.
Many states have legislation in place requiring a business owner to provide detailed pay stubs upon request. Follow this link to check your state’s laws.
Your salon owner is required to ensure their compliance with any applicable recordkeeping requirements. Here’s a post about what those requirements may be.
Legality aside, you need to be doing five things:
1.) During your employment interviews, ask detailed questions about pay stubs and compensation.
Explain that you keep your own detailed hour and service records and expect to be provided with detailed pay stubs every pay period so you can make comparisons. Make certain that your employment contract specifies in detail what commission rates you are being paid. (This keeps salon owners from hiring you with promises of high commissions and then shorting you later, claiming they “never promised that percentage” or “forgot.”)
Get. It. In. Writing.
2.) Diligently track your hours and service sales.
Even the most honest owners make mistakes. You need to take responsibility for tracking your hours and sales yourself so you can check your math against the owner’s.
In a perfect world, all owners would be trustworthy, upstanding, law-abiding citizens incapable of making mathematical errors.
Unfortunately, we do not reside in a perfect world.
It takes seconds to jot down your service details in a notebook between appointments. I don’t care how busy you are or how far behind you’re running: write it down.
Some salon owners will employ some extremely shady theft tactics. One owner I heard of this week charges more money for the service without disclosing this to the employees. She also refuses to disclose tip totals. Her staff asked for reports and she refused to provide them. When she finally did, they discovered she was skimming a considerable deal of money off the totals.
Exploitative salon owners may also refuse to provide detailed pay stubs or allow anyone to access the booking system or register.
3.) Stay away from employers who withhold information like this.
Unless you’re an hourly-only employee, you need to be able to see your earnings. If you are hourly-only, you need to be provided with your hours and hourly rate each pay period.
4.) Hold owners accountable for discrepancies.
If you notice your check isn’t adding up, schedule a meeting with the owner ASAP to get it straightened out. Show the owner your math and ask to see hers to figure out where that money went (or, in the case of an overage, where it came from).
An employer who isn’t thieving will appreciate that you noticed the issue and help you figure out what happened. An owner who is stealing may get defensive and refuse to help.
Don’t kick the door down and automatically assume you’re being robbed.
Give the owner the benefit of the doubt.
5.) Understand that mistakes happen–a lot.
I have used software to calculate payroll for years. Roughly three or four times a year, a part of my system breaks down due to user error. Here are some common reasons for payroll discrepancies:
- A receptionist accidentally checks out a client under the wrong service provider’s name, awarding the wrong employee the service commission.
- A service does not get put into the system at all, which means the client doesn’t get charged and neither the service nor the payment are reflected in the EOD (End Of Day) reports.
- A service provider forgets to clock out during her lunch break, resulting in an unbalanced hour count that requires rectification.
- A service provider forgets to clock in, resulting in a crazy low hour count that requires correction.
- A service provider forgets to clock out at the end of the day, totally jacking up their hour count and making me want to punch them in the face since adults shouldn’t have to be reminded to punch in a four digit code on the computer before they walk out the damn door.
- A service is cancelled/not performed but the client is charged anyway, resulting in an overcharge that needs to be refunded and an over-payment to the employee’s paycheck.
- Incredibly stupid tip collection and documentation procedures allow theft, invite mistakes, and make the tip reporting process dependent on employee honesty–which I am not cool with, since people lie.
The majority of payroll discrepancies I’ve had to correct were caused by receptionist error during booking or checkout. Often, errors are the result of miscommunication between the service provider and the receptionist. I started requiring the service provider, receptionist, and client to review the service ticket and final total prior to checkout. The receptionist needs to verify with everyone involved that the client received the right services and ensure she is charged for any additional upgrades that she may have enjoyed.
Where tips are concerned, under our previous system, the clients were given small tip envelopes if they chose to leave cash. They sealed the cash in the envelope and slipped it into the service provider’s lockbox themselves. Only myself and the service providers have the keys to these boxes. Because I’m compulsively organized and big on presentation, each provider had their own colored envelopes with their names printed on them–just in case one ended up in the wrong box. At the end of the day, cash tips were totaled by the closing manager prior to distribution to the employees–because we don’t mess with the IRS.
That system was effective because it made it impossible for tips to be pocketed by reception staff–money wasn’t just shoved into a cash drawer. Trust me on this–the first time you have a drawer overage in excess of a few cents and your receptionist is sitting there scratching her head, wondering whose tip she “forgot” to put into the system during checkout, you’ll implement a similar method. (Currently, we no longer accept tips of any kind.)
Salon owners: If you’re using software to do your math for you, 99% of the errors you end up with will be the fault of the front desk staff or the service provider.
We have no room in this business for Bafflegab or IJD Technology.
An employer who resorts to either of these deceptive avoidance tactics can’t be trusted. If you’re not an hourly employee, your commission earnings are not “confidential” to you and they certainly aren’t “proprietary.” Those totals dictate your income. If you were promised a percentage, you deserve to know exactly how much money you brought in so that you can ensure the numbers make sense.
The vast majority of salon management softwares do far more than just provide detailed pay stubs–they provide about 500 different types of reports, many of which a salon owner will never even use (for real, a lot of these booking softwares have gone waaay overboard in that department).
These excuses are unacceptable, so stop accepting them.
Salon compensation systems can get a bit confusing. Nothing is more important than knowing your rights and tracking your income to ensure you’re being paid every penny of what you’re owed for the work that you do. The Salon Employee Suitcase makes income tracking simple, no matter how complicated your employer’s compensation structure is.