Legal Columns


Nail Industry Related Labor Law Q&A 05/20/2015

A recent article in New York Times about the nail industry has generated a quite few labor law related inquiries to our firm, so we would like to take a few of those questions to provide you with some information that may be helpful to you.
What if I do not have an employee time clock?
It is not absolutely necessary for you to have an employee time clock. If there is a time sheet for the employees to sign in and out themselves or there is someone in charge of keeping such records, it should be fine as long as contents of those records are correct. However, we do recommend that you use a time clock device to keep better track of more accurate data.
What should I do when an employee does not clock in and/or out properly?
As an employer, you should give such employee a written warning notice and demand to clock in and out properly on a regular basis. However, you may terminate the employment as per the company disciplinary policy if such behavior continues to be repeated. And in order to prove that the layoff was in accordance with proper company procedure, it is a good idea to keep the employee guideline handbook and also provide its details at the time of each new hire.
What should I do about the laid-off employee’s wages? Until when should I pay the wages if he or she wants to quit right away?
If the employment gets terminated by either parties (employee or employer), whether you need to pay for unused vacation or not depends on the company policy. If there is no documentation of such policy and you had verbally agreed to give certain vacation days, you must pay for the unused portion of those vacation days.
By when do I need to pay all the wages if an employee gives me two weeks’ notice?
Typically, if an employee decides to quit, you need to pay him or her by the next pay day which includes his or her last day of work. For example, if the employee’s last day was the 17th and the company’s pay days are on the 15th and 30th of every month, you must pay all the wages by the 30th. Also you should send the check for the last wages by mail if it is requested by the employee.
If you have employees classified as manual workers at your nail business, you should pay their wages weekly and pay those wages within 7 days of the worked week.
Repeated mistakes by an employee keeps causing losses. Can I claim for damage compensations? Can I just lay that employee off?
New York is one of the states that support “at-will-employment,” therefore, in New York, you may lay off an employee without any reason and an employee can quit without any reason as well. So if a certain employee keeps causing you damages, you can go ahead and lay him or her off. However, you must make sure that the reason for that layoff is not applicable under the employment discrimination, including but not limited to age, race, gender, marital status, pregnancy.
Am I supposed to provide the employees’ uniforms, aprons, etc., for free?
As an employer of a nail salon, you can request your employees to wear uniforms or aprons. But if such is mandatory, the wage should not go below the minimum after taking into account the amount spent purchasing and/or laundering the uniform or apron. Therefore, if an employee is receiving minimum wages, you are responsible for providing and/or laundering the uniform or apron. And if that employee does spend his or her own money to purchase and/or launder the uniform or apron, you need to reimburse him or her. If the employees at your nail salon are required to wear simple black shirts and skirts which can be worn outside of the salon in everyday life, you are exempt from those obligations.
For how long can I let my employees continue working without a break? Is it 15 minutes of break after 8 hours? Or is it 30 minutes? How much time should I give them for lunch and other breaks?
According to New York state law, a 30 minute lunch break should be given between 11:00am and 2:00pm to an employee who has a 6 hour shift starting at or before 11:00am and ending at or after 2:00pm. So if an employee has a 6 hour shift starting at 6:00am and ending at 12:00pm, such law would not apply and lunch break is not required as he or she is not working until 2:00pm.
Under the New York State law, it is not required to give extra breaks besides lunch. If the break you give to your nail salon employees are 20 minutes or less, you should consider that as work time and pay their hourly wages.
What type of questions are considered in violation of labor law at the time of new hire interview?

Typically, questions about age, race, pregnancy, nationality, religion, marital status, or sexual preference are prohibited as they could be considered as discriminatory under certain circumstances. Although it is pretty common for Korean employers to ask potential employees questions like “Are you married?” or “When do you plan to get married?”, it is against the labor law to ask such questions at the interviews.


If you have any questions relating to labor law, or would like additional legal information, please do not hesitate to contact us at We will take your inquiries into consideration for our next column.


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