Why not having a national code is a risk to salon owners

Hairdressing is a profession that requires a considerable amount of technical skill and training to get the job done right.

However, unqualified hairdressers are rampant across the industry and pose a risk to Australian salon owners.

While it may be clear that a dodgy haircut could damage a salon’s reputation, it could also result in a claim made against the business due to its negligent service.

With the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC) urging for a National Code of Practice, the conversation has turned to what salon owners can do to safeguard their businesses against these risks.

Why is the AHC pushing for a Code of Practice?

Hairdressing is a service industry, meaning customers pay money for professionals to perform a task or service.

Without a standardised national approach to licencing and regulation, the quality of that service could be undermined by a lack of training.

Regulation of the hairdressing industry currently mostly sits with state-level governments, and standards are varied across the country.

While education is certainly recommended, most states do not require training for new hairdressers.

This puts the onus on salon owners to create their own recruitment standards, which is easier said than done during a labour shortage.

Only New South Wales and South Australia require hairdressers to have official training, which is a Certificate III in Hairdressing.

This certificate contains several technical competencies that hairdressers may be expected to perform in the workplace, such as using bleach or learning to cut different hairstyles.

But perhaps it’s better to look at what hairdressers outside those two states are not learning, such as the competency of applying safe hygiene, health, and work practices.

To ensure the industry’s integrity, the AHC wants this to change.

As AHC Chief Executive Sandy Chong said in a recent ABC article, “it’s ridiculous” to not have legislation that requires a Certificate III, which covers the “required skills of a hairdresser”.

Who is at risk?

Where the law currently sits in most jurisdictions across Australia is that workers can conduct hair services without having a qualification.

This presents a risk to customers who don’t know whether the person performing the service is qualified.

Secondly, untrained workers may increase the risk to themselves, who may feel nervous or uncomfortable performing unfamiliar tasks.

But perhaps the people who have the most on the line are salon owners.

Multiple situations could result in a claim being brought against the business due to a mistake of an untrained worker.

These claims can run into the thousands and financially devastate the salon.

Furthermore, it would be common knowledge among clients that the salon hires untrained workers, which could be bad for business.

What can salon owners do?

If you’re a salon business owner wondering whether your salon is at risk, it’s safe to say alarm bells may be ringing.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect your business from the risk of untrained workers.

Firstly, you can ensure that you’ve got your recruitment standards down pat.

Include some non-negotiables in your job listing, such as the requirement for candidates to have a Certificate III in Hairdressing and an apprenticeship signed off.

You will then need to follow through in your face-to-face interview by ensuring the candidate provides evidence of meeting these criteria.

If they make it through, the next step is ensuring they can do what they say. Do a trade test and invite them to carry out a variety of technical skills that will be expected of them.

Once you have the candidate, the risk mitigation doesn’t have to stop there.

Ensure you have regular training sessions with your team and be on the constant lookout for any threats to the safety of your salon.

This will not only aid in training your staff but also ensure your salon workers are upskilling and improving their practice, which will inevitably mean your salon will become safer over time.

Ensure you have protection

While these actions might reduce the risk of untrained workers, they will likely not remove the risk entirely and therefore are not a substitute for protection.

Accidents are often an inevitable part of running a salon and can still happen no matter how much you prepare for them.

Business insurance for hairdressers is an essential set of products that can help safeguard your salon.

Here are some of the most common risks and what insurance you can put in place to protect your business.

A claim due to your negligent service

As previously mentioned, hairdressers provide a service, and your clients expect your salon to deliver on what they pay for. Some may even come to seek advice from you or your hairdressers.

From a hairstyle gone wrong to a recommended product causing an adverse reaction, there are many situations where a claim could arise because of your salon’s service.

Professional Indemnity insurance is designed to protect your salon from claims made against your salon arising from actual or alleged negligence or omissions in providing your professional service or advice.

A claim due to accidental injury or property damage

Chemicals, hot wax, scissors, razors, electrical equipment – all in the incompetent hands of an untrained hairdresser. If your employee accidentally injures a customer or supplier or damages their property, your salon could be liable.

Public Liability insurance could protect your hair and beauty business if a third party is injured or sustains property damage because of your negligent business activities.

The bottom line

While peak industry bodies are pushing for national reform, the responsibility to ensure your salon’s safety is ultimately on you.

Untrained hairdressers are a risk to themselves and your customers, which ultimately risks your salon’s future.

Having risk mitigation strategies and insurance for hairdressers in place can help safeguard your business from these nasty situations.

To avoid any drama, visit BizCover to get your insurance sorted today.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769

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