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AWU secures pay rise for casual hair stylists

July 23, 2021

Casually employed hair stylists are set to receive a solid pay rise for working weekends after HSA (powered by the AWU), the SDA, and industry group Hair and Beauty Australia (HABA) reached an agreement that will now go to the Fair Work Commission.

Under the new agreement, a total of around $5.75 per hour will be added to weekend casual rates. The pay rise will be implemented gradually during 2022 and 2023, and at the end means a casual hair stylist working a full eight-hour day over the weekend would take home an extra $92.

Casual hair stylists are meant to receive an extra 25% for every hour worked, to compensate for permanent entitlements they cannot access, such as sick and annual leave, guaranteed hours, and advanced notice of termination.

But the Hair and Beauty Award weekend penalty rates don’t include this loading, which can add up to more than $4000 a year for a senior stylist.

HSA embarked on a successful campaign, which involved collecting a swag of expert and workers’ evidence and a petition from hair stylists, to make their voices heard and bring their wages into line with similar trades.

The Australian Workers’ Union, which powers Hair Stylists Australia, says this is a big step forward for the working rights of hair stylists.

“By standing up and joining their union, hair stylists have shown they can take on their bosses and win themselves a pay rise,” AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton says.

“All casual hair stylists who work weekends will see their pay rise off the back of this decision.

“Before this case started, bosses through their industry association HABA were determined to cut the wages of Australian hair stylists and barbers, instead they will now be raising them.”

In their case, HSA argued that including casual loading for weekends would improve living standards of all casual employees, help low-paid workers afford the basics they need to live on, and compensate casual workers for giving up their weekends.

Its case included evidence from casual hair stylists, who talked about their workload and hours, and the effect a casual loading would have on them and their families.

Mr Walton says: “As qualified tradespeople, Australian hair stylists are dramatically underpaid and undervalued for the work they do.

“While in the long term we want to achieve much more, we should nevertheless recognise this decision as historic because hair stylists were able to stand up for themselves at the Fair Work Commission and win a genuine advance.

“If hair stylists continue to get behind their union, this will be just the first of many wins to come.”

HSA ambassador Rachael Yarwood, who works as a casual senior stylist in suburban Sydney, says the result removes an inequity in the system.

“My colleagues, who were permanent, earned exactly the same as me on our Saturday shifts, and it never seemed fair,” Ms Yarwood says.

“If they took time off, they were still paid. But if my son was sick, or if I went on holiday, I got nothing. I thought casuals were supposed to be paid more to make up for that.

“Without casual loading, my Saturday pay is only $2 more. I don’t know how many people would give up their weekends for an extra $2 an hour.

“We’re just standing up for ourselves and saying: ‘This isn’t fair. Why are we the only trade that’s being paid like this?’

“I’m really glad that HSA has helped us finally make it right.”

The deal will be presented to the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission on 28 July for ratification.

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