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    Contracts of Employment for Salon Staff

    David Wright has 25 years’ experience in human resources and is the employment law and practice advisor for Habia.

    He travels the country advising salons and provides employers with essential documents like contracts of employment and disciplinary and grievance procedures.

    Here is his advice for dealing with contracts of employment. The issues concerning you and your team are likely to be the same whether you have one small salon or a chain of larger salons. In this new series, we will look at issues such as recruitment, terms and conditions of service, sickness and discipline issues. In this article, we look at contracts of employment.

    Who should have a contract of employment?
    All employees – permanent, part-time, and temporary staff – should have one. The law requires they have one within eight weeks of taking up the post.
    However, I would advise issuing a contract prior to an employee starting work.

    The contract specifies the basis of the appointment and your expectations; it ensures that the employee clearly understands them prior to starting work.

    What should be included?
    A contract is a binding document on both parties and should be carefully worded. By law, only the following needs to be included:

    • Start date
    • Job title
    • Place of work
    • Remuneration
    • Hours of work
    • Holiday entitlement
    • Sick pay arrangements
    • Disciplinary and grievance procedures
    • Pension arrangements
    • Notice arrangements.

    However, I recommend you also consider including:

  • A probationary period
  • A facility to recover training costs
  • A facility to recover overpayments.
  • I have seen contracts that run to 20 pages, but beware trying to include a paragraph to cover every possible eventuality. It makes much more sense to have a separate set of salon rules.

    Many salons use contracts that have been produced for other industries or downloaded from the internet. However, when they come to use them they often discover that neither they, nor the employee, actually understand what the content means.

    How long can a trial period last?
    It’s entirely up to the salon. The key issue is that after 12 months’ service an employee has the right to go to an employment tribunal and claim unfair dismissal.

    A probationary period is probably your most valuable business tool. Three months’ probationary period is probably too short; why give yourself 12 weeks to decide if an employee is up to the job? In my view six months is more reasonable.

    Have you considered setting new employees targets? For example: ‘by the end of your probationary period your column will be earning a specified amount, your client retention will be a specified percentage’. You could consider having a clause giving you the facility to extend the probationary period.

    Can I have a clause with a facility to recover training costs?
    In short, yes, but it needs to be carefully worded and needs to specify what is recoverable, over what period and how you would recover the money.

    How else might I use my contract to save costs?
    The notice that an employer must give an employee is defined in law and is one week for each year of service. However, the notice you require from the employee is entirely up to the salon and is defined in the contract.

    Many salons quote a month but, in my experience, salons don’t want staff remaining on the premises and they are paid for not working their notice. Why not ask for one week’s notice? Some salons only ask for 24 hours.

    Similarly with holiday entitlement set to increase to 28 days in 2009, you might have a clause where you can fix a week’s leave to coincide with a quieter period of the year, for example, February.

    What happens if staff don’t sign their contract?
    My initial advice would be to ensure the contract is given to prospective employees before they begin working and therefore avoid the problem ever occurring.
    If the employee is unhappy with any of the clauses and the problem cannot be resolved, then effectively the employee is declining the offer of employment.

    If the employee has started and refuses to return their contract and the problem cannot be resolved you should write to the employee stating that: “as you are continuing to work and receiving the benefits of the terms and conditions of the contract I am assuming you have therefore accepted them.” It is not an option to say they accept only selected elements of the contractual offer.

    My staff don’t have a contract of employment but we all understand the agreement. Is this a problem?
    It certainly is. All employees are entitled in law to a written statement of particulars or a contract of employment. However, far more significantly, if you have a problem with an employee and it ends up at an employment tribunal you are almost defenceless.

    Indeed, the absence of a contract and/or disciplinary procedure can result in any financial penalty being doubled.

    Of equal importance, your business is probably missing an opportunity. A contract isn’t just an annoying piece of administration; it is a tool that can be the most valuable document in your armoury for maximising the utilisation of your workforce.

    Got a question you’d like David to answer? Send an email to Ruth Hunsley or visit the legal forum on MyHJi.

    If you are interested in contacting David about your employment queries, or want him to produce a contract, disciplinary procedure or other policy you can contact him on 07930 358067, (01522 831061) or e-mail sarahclark223@ntlworld.com

    • Great site…keep up the good work.

    • Hi, I am interested in providing a contract for a comission stylist that I am providing education and advertising as well as all business expense. I need to know where to abtain such a contract

    • sandra lindal

      what if you signed a contracted but changes were made to wages and holidays! am i entitled to a new contracted? even if its not out of date and was agreed?

    • Kate

      Hi Sandra,

      I put your quetion to David Wright, our legal expert and he says: It isn’t necessary to issue a new contract every time there is a change, particualy in the case of holidays and pay.

      For example, holidays have increased from 20 to 24 and now 28 days and it is often the case that pay increases each year, particularly if you are close to the minimum wage, but you would mot receive a new contract in these situations.

      Hope this helps…

    • Anonymous

      I need to provide new contracts in my salon. Any ideas
      of useful templates to get me started?

    • Kate

      I have put your question to our expert panellists and your answer will appear on the HJi forums as soon as possible.

    • Kate

      Hi Cathy,

      Myy apologies for the delay in getting abck to you. Your question will be put to our expert David Wright and he will either respond here or on the forum.

    • kay

      I have in the past had a problem with a stylist leaving my employment to work in a salon in close proximity to my salon effecting my trade.
      Can a clause be included in the employment contract to restrict the employees working within a specified radius of my salon for maybe 12 months ?

    • Jim Rowley

      My daughter has worked in a salon for 4.5 years, the owner has decided to persue other interests and is closing the business on March 20 2010. he has terminated my daughters employment with immediate effect only paying her wages up to now. She has never been issued with a contract nor has she received a payslip over the last 12 months, nor a P60. what can she do please?

    • Kate

      Hi Jim,

      I have put your question to David Wright and he will answer on the Legal Matters forum in the HJi Community.



    • Kate

      Hi Kay,

      I have sent your email to David Wright and he will reply on the Legal Matters forum on the HJi Community

    • brendan curtis

      hello mr wrigt, there was a girl working for me as a hairdress up to last week and now she open a hairdresser next door to mine is anything i can do about this, thank you verry much for your time, re/brendan

    • narinder kaur

      i finish my certificate three in hairdressin and i still doing diploma in salon management and now i find the job to polis my skill it is my first need to get job in this line
      thank you

    • Ben Whur

      We’re looking to open a small salon in a competitive area. We’ve interview a few staff and a number have signe Terms of Employment produced by the Nat Hairdressers’ Federation.

      A couple have expressed concerns about clauses preventing them from working in another business within 1/2 a mile of their current employer.

      I’ve seen these clauses before but are they really enforceable?

      I’d like to be able to offer some reassurance

      Ta – Ben

    • Amy

      do you need a contract of employment if your doing work placement as an assistant from college, whilst still in school?

    • narelle stacey

      i need to get hold of a hairdressers work plce agreement. can you assist me?

    • hi there

      hi there i was recently renting a chair from a salon…with no contract…the owner told me she didnt want me working there anymore and that i had to leave…can she do that or does she have to give me notice? also she has refused to give me any numbers of any of my clients…is that allowed? as they are part of my buisness

    • sarah

      my daughter has started in a hairdressers, she is seventeen i would like to know how many hours a day is she allowed to work and what breaks would she be entitled to?… she worked ten and a half hours today and only had half hour break is this acceptable please

    • Amy

      How far or close can u move to another salon to work? R all contraceds the same? How meny miles?

    • amy

      i am an all round hairdresser,with 9 years experience,working in bristol. how much do you think is a reasonable hourly rate? also i have worked in a very small salon for nearly a year,how much notice would i have to give if i wanted to leave,as i am just about to sign a contract. cheers amy.

    • cheryl

      My daughter has finished her college course NVQ2 Hairdressing as an apprentice. She qualified in June 2010. Her boss has refused to give her a contract of employment despite requests from the college. He is a bit of a bully and she no longer wants to work for him. Can he stop her working locally for a competitor?

    • julie

      I have never made my employees sign a written contract, can i introduce one at any time?

    • Tamsin

      Just finished my job,I’ve been offered another but in my contracts states can’t work 5miles within 9mths, my clients were basically mine as I was self employed when I had my clients, just left there I’m m
      Employed,could I stand a chance and just do it,how much would it cost her if she took me court. I wouldn’t advertise or take any clients. Pls pls help. Xx

    • caro xulu

      actually i need help with salon contract . I dont even know how to start . If you can help me atlist help me with the first page.We having something like a dreadlock salon where by we have to train staff maybe for 2 month , after that they just go and work for other people , plz plz plz help

    • jo

      im renting chairs in my salon and just wondered i am doing a contract are they entitiled to any days hoilidays and any days sick or do they have to pay whether they are in the salon or not.
      please help.

    • jade

      Hi im employed at a salon but do not have a contract.
      I brought all my clients to the salon and have thier details,the salon doesnt. I want to put a advert in the local paper to say i have moved salons and will be going mobile can i do this? do i have to give any notice to the salon. I have worked thre since jan
      please help thanks

    • Kate

      After being on maternity leave for 10months i was due to return to work in the salon in January .As I had no child care available I handed my notice in and left.

      I now do have childcare available and asked the salon owner if they were able to take me back, they were un accommodating and said there was no work for me!

      I have since been offered a job in another salon in the same town, and my last contract I signed was 14 years ago when I was an apprentice.
      Is this contract still valid???? As it states in cannot work within a 3mile radius of my previous salon.

      Hope you can help!

    • Rachael Gibson

      You haven’t provided a lot of information so I am guessing your circumstances in a few areas

      When you resigned you were in your unpaid element of your maternity leave and therefore your employer wasn’t paying SMP. In these circumstances they could reasonably accept your resignation.

      You don’t say how long after this child care became available but there is no legal obligation on the salon to give you a job ( the only doubt might have been if this all happened in a matter of days)

      You should by the way have received holiday pay for the time you were on maternity leave and you have a legal right to that.

      However it s god news that you have another job

      The restrictive covenant is to protect the employers legitimate business needs. However I seriously wonder how many clients you are likely to take with you to a new employer when you have been on maternity leave for 12 months. The biggest issue is the employer has to take costly legal action to stop you working or recover losses (if you don’t have a portfolio of clients to take with you they may actually not encounter significant losses and it might not be worthwhile for them).The fact you offered them your services and they declined is hardly consistent with you being a valued asset or a threat to them.

      More importantly it is probably unreasonable to have a restrictive covenant o= in an apprentice contract as you were not guaranteed a job at the end of the training. It would appear your employer might have missed the boat in not giving you a new contract when you were given a stylists job.

    • ANGELA

      Hi, i am taking over a salon where the staff all rent chairs. I would rather the staff were employed by myself but im worried if i initiate this they will leave and take all the customers with them. Any advise would be helpful.



    • Kate Woods

      Hi Brendan, I have added your email to the HJi community forum and David will respond to your question there.

      Kind regards


    • Kate Woods

      No, Amy, you won’t need a contract, but the salon will need to put some health and safety measures in place to make sure that everything is okay for you.

    • Kate Woods

      Hi Narelle,

      Your best point of contact is the nhf – you should be able to find a work place agreement at

    • Kate Woods

      Hi Amy,

      This will depend entirely on what is stated in your contract as each contract should be tailored. If you don’t have a copy of your contract, you can always request it from your employer.

      If you have any further questions, please come back to us.

    • Kate Woods

      Hi Amy, I have added your question to the HJi forum for fellow hairdressers to answer. We are also sending it to Sean Hanna who will answer from a managerial point of view.

    • Alison irons

      I currently am employed part time in a small barbers on minimum wage, my employers are asking me to go self employed  on a 40/60 split. I have no problem with other than guidelines from a contract, such as my basic minimum hours, and can they then make me work a lot more. I know I won’t be paid holiday or sick, but without me being silly as it is a small establishment can they stipulate my holiday entitlement, etc. Having only ever being employed in the hairdressing and salon environment and going back into this in the last 2 years,  can you please give me any advice that is realistic to see or ask in a contract..

    • Good day,

      i am opening a new saloon and would a copy of a saloon contract plus,
      i also learned that the hairstylist will be woring for me have been working for other saloons being paid a salary either by commission or basic and commission what will be your advise in terms of that

      I would like to start on a good footing on this, i have received samples of contract and not happy about them, it happens that i read your information
      please assist

    • Addey

      I have chair renter doing month to month on a verbal contract. Yes, I am realizing this is a poor decision on my part. She is late for clients, no shows and cancels appointments last minut or after appointment time. I gave her many warnings and finally put her on probation. Including these rules to follow for two months or I was letting her go. She agreed. As follows: to be 15 to 30 minutes early for appointments, no canceling appointment at appointment time, and no no-showing her appointments. She within one week no showed a client. I thentold her in a letter and verbally I needed to let her go. She is severely hurting the salon reputation and more. What are my rights as to “letting her go” in this situation?

      • Mattia Ribaudo

        I never had one contract