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Hairdresser Chair Rental and the Law

Renting a chair in a salon, or even renting a room, is commonplace within the hair industry.

A survey in 2004 suggested there were more than 100,000 self-employed hairdressers in the UK. Some hair salons rent a single chair, often to extend the range of services they are able to provide, whereas some salons have 100% of the premises occupied on a self-employed basis.

Like all forms of employment there are positives and negatives to renting a chair; David Wright, who advises Habia and a range of salons on their legal business, answers some of the key questions.

I employ three hairdressers, but have space for a fourth. I am considering renting the fourth chair – what sort of financial arrangements can I have?

There are basically three types of arrangement:

  1.  Some salons charge a flat weekly rent; this may be attractive as you will know exactly what income you will receive for the duration of the agreement.
  2. Some salons don’t charge a rent, but share the takings with the hairdresser. There is no prescribed fixed percentage but I have seen anything from 40-60% being charged for the chair rental.
  3. some salons have a version of both, a smaller rent which at least guarantees some income and then a percentage of the takings so that, if the hairdresser is successful, the salon owner also benefits.

Of course, the hairdresser will also do his/her calculations and the arrangement needs to be mutually beneficial.

If I rent a chair do I need any sort of contract?

Definitely. The hairdresser is not an employee so they do not get a contract of employment. They are providing a service for you and receive a contract of service.

This is normally for a fixed period of time, for example one to three years, although they normally also include a notice clause.

The contract is vital as it will cover the nature of the service provided. In addition, you need to cover every area which might be the cause of future confusion.

For example who provides the products? Who pays for salon promotional materials? Are there any additional costs? Who pays for energy costs and maintenance?

Renting a chair seems a safe option for my salon, but are there potential pitfalls?

You are right, renting is attractive in that you have none of the potential problems with staff, like recruitment, discipline and covering maternity.

In addition, you do not have the costs of income tax and National Insurance. There is insufficient space for me to highlight all the potential pitfalls but, for example, the person is not your employee, but your salon’s reputation can be affected if they provide a poor service.

On the other hand, if they are very successful then their earnings can be substantial and this sum could have been your profit if you employed them.

Finally, it is far more difficult to limit their activities if they choose to leave. It is frequently argued that the clients are their clients. In simple terms, they can be seen as actually being in competition with your business.

I have read that the Inland Revenue sometimes frowns at the idea of someone being self employed in a salon.

You are right, the Inland Revenue is sometimes sceptical, but many thousands successfully do this without a problem.

Sometimes there are issues when a salon closes or there is a major disagreement and the person argues they are really an employee.

There have been many tribunal cases on these issues and there is a range of features that tribunals consider determining if the person is an employee or not.

Clearly, the individual will pay their own tax and National Insurance. As they are self-employed they are free to trade elsewhere.

In theory you have contracted for their services so the individual may be free to let someone else (subject to specified qualifications) deliver the service on their behalf.

The person is more likely to be viewed as an employee if they have to wear your uniform and have fixed hours in your salon.

I want to extend the range of services in my salon but don’t want the risk of employing someone. Is renting the space the route for me?

It might well be, just consider the issues in question one. If you have done your research and you believe there is a market/demand you could easily employ someone and seek to minimise any risks.

For example, you could recruit someone on a temporary basis and possibly initially on part-time hours.

I accept you do have the salary costs, but if it doesn’t work out, then there is the probationary period and there are no redundancy costs to the employer until the employee has attained two years’ service.

More of David Wright’s Legal Advice For Salon Owners

37 Responses to Hairdresser Chair Rental and the Law

  1. mity February 15, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    what is a good way to find stylist to rent chairs in a salon

  2. stephanie mc gonigle July 14, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    How would you work taking card payment for each person that is renting a chair

  3. Natasha August 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    I have been successfully manageing a Hair Salon for over a year and a half.

    I am not a Hairdresser but a good Business Woman.

    The owner now wants to close doors due to her domestic situatiom changing.

    I really dont want to give up the Salon but am unsure of the best way forward.

    Do you have any suggestions?

  4. JULIE USHER August 24, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    Does renting a chair give the person any rights in law ie sitting tenant. I have contract allocating no particular chair to person renting a chair. However a compulsory purchase surveyor has pointed out I may be in breach of my lease. Their contracts were drawn up by a reputable solicitor, now I am not sure if I need to change these to service agreements and the expense involved.

  5. viki September 27, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    i have asked my staff to rent chiars at my salon, which they have agreed to, what notice if any do i have to give to the clients to inform them of the changes.

    many thanks Viki

  6. marlene roberts January 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Could you point me the the right direction if I wanted to advertise for rent a chair to barber or stylist.

    Thanks
    Marlene

  7. lakin dos reis January 24, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    i am not a qualified stylist, but tired of the situations iv had in a salon, is it possible for me to rent a chair at a salon and service my existing client-el with out my qualification?

    xxx
    kind regards
    Lakin

  8. stacey March 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    im currently renting a chair in a salon, wot do i need to do about insurance?

  9. Donna March 22, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Can a stylist claim in a tribunal for minium hours worked IE they are self employed and because they attended the salon for walk ins claim that they must be paid minimum wage over the time they are there

  10. Tarkan June 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    I am a salon owner and want to rent a chair in my salon how much do I charge and how do I go about finding someone to rent.

    Many thanks

  11. Roseanne Murray June 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Can you please advice me on where I can optain chair rental contracts from.

    Many thanks

  12. Rachael Gibson
    Rachael Gibson June 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Hi Roseanne,

    You should be able to find the answer to all your chair rental questions here, but if the answer isn’t suitable please feel free to leave your question for our legal expert David Wright in his forum.

    http://www.hji.co.uk/blogs/2008/09/hairdresser-chair-rental-and-t.html

  13. Rachael Gibson
    Rachael Gibson June 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Hi Tarkan,

    You can find the answer to most of your chair rental queries here:

    http://www.hji.co.uk/blogs/2008/09/hairdresser-chair-rental-and-t.html

    If that doesn’t help, please feel free to leave a question for our legal expert David Wright in his forum.

  14. dot zottola August 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    i have had a salon for 13 years all staff employed. due to my circumstances i have offered all the staff the opportunity to rent their chairs. the rental offered is a weekley or daily on the basis they all accept this offer and become self employed or they all stay employed. is this an acceptable offer

  15. eve victoria August 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Good afternoon. I currently rent chairs in salon, weekly payment to me not in advance3, no written contact. I need to give notice to one of the renters for violent outbursts in open busy salon, personall harr4assment and name calling disruptive behaviour….how do I go about this dimissal legally. Thank you, in advance

  16. helen September 6, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    i work in a old peoples home bringing a servis once a week for the last 2yrs..iv now been informed that i will have to rent a chair at the cost of one hundred pounds a month which also includes water charges an electricity ,which are covered by the people living there…is this legal

  17. Jessica September 9, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    I have been at a salon for almost two years on 60% comission just last month they changed it to self employeed (rent chair) and she gets 40% of my earnings is that okay?

  18. Kathy October 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Can anyone tell me please if there is a legal requirement for distance between work stations for hairdressers.
    An answer fairly quick would be great thanks

  19. Rachael Gibson
    Rachael Gibson October 3, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Hi Kathy,

    I suggest you speak to HABIA – they will be able to let you know if there are any legal guidelines:

    http://www.habia.org/index.php?action=faq

  20. the gossip hairdressing salon November 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    colud anyone tell where the best place would be to advertise rent a chair as i have 10 stations that i would like to rent out,we are based in norfolk

  21. Vicky February 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    I have been working self employed in a salon for almost 5 years, I have to pay full rent even when I’m on holiday or off sick. Is this legal or am I entitled to some free weeks?

  22. Marilette Strydom March 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    We are a hair salon that just opened up, we’ve got 3stations that we can rent out, but I am not sure if thats the right way to go, seeing that we’re new and want to build up our clientel. What would your suggestion be?

    Kind Regards
    Marilette

  23. Jackie May 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Hi can you help me plz i rented a chair in on dec 5th 2011 with another girl on the day we started we signed a contract. After talking altogether to give things a try for 6mth we signed for some reson i put the end of June and the other girl put 5th May i never new this till now. unfortunately things were not as they seemed when i appiled for this rent a chair. i used to open and close the salon spent most of the time on my own which we did not get told at the begining we did all our own advertizeing and buying this to jazz up the shop with all this cost and the cost of produces i owe a lot of money to the bank i never made a wage and on many times paid the chair rent out of my money i loaned from the bank.i lost my mother on the 23rd of Dec and withthis and the salon not working with know clinets coming in or being their in the first place i have been forusted to give my job up. due to having no income or being able to get a job at the moment as im on the sick i cant pay my contracted of and they are now asking me for the money what can i do plz help me thank you.

  24. raj October 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    hi, i have an empty shop on Wandsworth Road and i am thinking of turning it into a salon and renting chairs out.
    How do i go about this? i have an afro carribean mens salon opposite me but nobody doing woman afro hair. also how much should i charge for the chairs and how do i find styists to rent a chair?

  25. Hji October 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Hi Raj

    Our legal expert has answered your question here:
    http://www.hji.co.uk/community/forums/chair-rental-prices-at-a-new-salon-23167.aspx

    Best wishes,
    The HJi Team

  26. Leanne November 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    I have had someone come into my salon asking about renting a chair he is not fully qualified but has his own insurance. As a first time salon owner I am not sure where I stand plea help!

  27. Imran Yaseen November 8, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    1) If a stylist only wants to work 3 days – does she have to pay for 5 days if i put it in a contract?

    i was thinking of doing £250 per week tues-sat 9-5, which would give each stylist flexiability as off when they want to work and how often.

    2) The salon currently operates on an employment basis 9-5 mon – sat, am i within my right as the new owner to change the opening hours.

    3) also by closing on a monday it will include majority of bank holidays which the area is very quiet and would therefore be unfair to charge them for it. – generally monday at the momment there is one stylit out 5 and she has only 4 clients from 9-5 on a monday.

    4) as the girls are self employed, how does holidays work – do they still have to pay rental of the chair for that week?

  28. Karen Darke November 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    I am a free lanse stylist working on a rent a chair basis.[or self employed] I supply my stock, I do not use the salon phone. My clients contact me via my moblile or email. I pay a very high rental, this is all fine. The salon owner now says I have to pay him for any time off that I have from the salon. Up till now I have not paid him for any days off/holidays I take.

    I would like to know what sort of guide lines there are regarding time off, [or is this totaly up to the owner of the salon] I do not know where I stand regarding bank holidays etc. The owner now says I can only take three weeks of, he wants these to be in blocks of weeks.
    As I pay such a high rental and use very few facilities of his,I now do not know where I stand regarding time of for either holiday or illness.I have been there for twelve years now and feel this is an unjust move on his behalf.

    Regards
    Karen Darke

  29. HJi November 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Karen

    We have asked our legal expert David Wright to answer your question here:

    http://www.hji.co.uk/community/forums/should-you-have-to-pay-for-time-off-if-you-rent-a-23190.aspx#26592

    Thanks,
    The HJi team

  30. Sophie Charles November 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    hi, at the moment i am employed by a salon owner. But she is wanting me to go rent a chair .She has told me that i have to buy my clientele off her,is this correct or is there some kind of procedure you have to go through?

  31. beverley smith January 3, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Hi,

    there are 2 elements to my question:
    first: i own a salon and have a stylist who is self employed and rents a chair. the contract has a 3 month notice period. she is just going off to have a baby. i want to terminate the contract. can i dio this while she is off to have the baby. she isnt paying any kind of retainer or rent whilst she is o

    second: there were insufficient funds in her account and her last payment cheque has bounced. can i termintae the contract due to breach of contract?

    thanks

  32. Rachael Gibson
    Rachael Gibson January 7, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Hi Beverly,

    We have passed your question on to our legal expert, David Wright. Here’s his answer:

    Thank you for your question. Based on the information you have given me I would make the following points;

    I don’t know what kind of self-employment agreement you have and whether it would stand up to scrutiny. The danger is that she can argue she is really employed and has been dismissed because she is pregnant which would be a nightmare scenario.

    You haven’t indicated what her wishes are. As she is self-employed, she doesn’t get maternity leave but she would have an opportunity to return 4 weeks after having the baby.

    She also should have the opportunity to find a substitute to cover her. I don’t know how long she plans to be off and that would make a difference. If she is paying a flat rent then that would continue whether or not she was actually working. It would be up to her how she managed this.

    You seem to have decided you want to give her notice rather than find another self-employed person to cover her absence and it would be interesting to know more details regarding this.

    Similarly, if she hasn’t met the terms of your agreement – i.e. she hasn’t paid – then this would be sufficient justification to give her notice. Once again I would be confident some discussion has taken place regarding this .I am interested that she hasn’t decided to give you notice of her wish to leave?

  33. chetna January 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Hi If i was to rent a chair, how would i trust the stylist with all my stock within the salon. Also should i go with 50/50 or 60/40 in my favour.

  34. Lauren McCoombe March 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I have just moved to London as a qualified hairdresser from Australia. I would like to know what is involved in becoming a rent a chair hairdresser in London as far as legalities and paperwork goes ie: licence, tax, government requirements and insurances?

  35. Matthew
    Matthew March 11, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    David Wright, legal expert says:
    Thank you for your question. You have not specified your immigration status. If you are an Austrailian citizen then you need a visa to work in the UK and this might be a difficulty. I does not matter if you are employed or self employed, the requirement to have a visa remains.
    T obtain a visa you need to contact the home office
    If you have or don’t need a visa then to register as self employed for tax and national insurance purposes just go to the HMRC website
    There are no other statutory regulations. You would find a salon renting a chair, register to tax and national insurance. Normally you would take out some professional insurance but this isn’t mandatory ( although strongly recommended)

  36. Kate Woods April 16, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Hey Stephanie,

    We have put your question to Sean, our business expert, and David, our legal expert, to give you a rounded answer. You’ll be able to read the answers on the HJi community forum.

  37. Kate Woods April 16, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Hi Julie,

    I have put your question to David Wright and he will respond on the HJi legal forum.

    http://www.hji.co.uk/community/forums/318.aspx

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