Kens Clinic

Ken’s diagnosis

A massive question, Terry! I’m a firm believer in the employment model – what follows is my personal opinion and I appreciate that many may disagree with me.

First, there is a moral issue that cannot be overlooked. If salons and stylists are taking the self-employed option to reduce the amount of taxes being paid, in any of the various forms, then sooner or later the HMRC spotlight is bound to fall on the revenue received from our industry. I would welcome this as maybe then an equal playing field could be created for all. At the moment that is far from the case.

The issue here is the lack of policing of the HMRC guidelines that exist for the self-employed model. Currently, for a stylist to be seen as self-employed, the salon they operate in cannot control the hours they work, the prices they charge, the products they use, the clients they serve, the holidays they take, their education and skill levels, nor their culture.

Clients also need to be made aware of the fact that they are being served by a self-employed stylist and that any complaints or other issues relating to the service they receive are the responsibility of the stylist and not the salon. I believe that in most of the salons operating a self-employed model this is far from the reality! You only need to read the conversations on social media sites to realise this. I regularly see salon owners with self-employed stylists using the words, “team” and “staff” and yet to be self-employed means you are on nobody’s team nor are you anyone’s staff.

I see owners asking advice on what to do about issues they have with self-employed stylists and yet the fact is they have little or no control over those stylists at all. Doing so contravenes the very concept of self-employment. Technically you can’t even provide any education to a self-employed stylist unless they pay you to do so.

There could also be, as yet unchallenged, issues relating to GDPR and who actually owns the client data, who controls that data and what happens to it if a self-employed stylist moves on.

So, why do I believe in the employed model? Because I believe in creating brands that can grow, cultures to be proud of, careers and continuous education for professional teams of people that benefit from the security of being employed by a solid and profitable business.

Salon owners need to rethink the employment packages they offer. The underlying challenge we have in our industry is pricing. To employ the right people you need to offer the right rewards. To offer the right rewards you need to charge the right prices. To charge the right prices you need to offer an amazing guest experience. To offer an amazing guest experience you need to employ the right people. And so it goes, round and round…

Ken West is director of business experts 3•6•5 – email him on


Ken West