HABA open letter on behalf of beauty salon owners

After HABA recently published an opinion editorial on professionalbeauty.com.au, they received an onslaught of messages. They have written a response to clarify their points. HABA CEO Jan Gawel and National President Maureen Harding have written the following:

“We appreciate all of the comments and feedback on our recent post ‘An Open Letter on behalf of Hair and Beauty Salon Owners’.

We wanted to take a moment to clarify what HABA is and is not doing on behalf of Hair and Beauty Employers, because that is who we represent and who, in the end, we are fighting for.

Let us be clear, we are trying to help hair and beauty salons open as soon as possible. That is our goal. The bills do not stop, and all the grants and JobSaver payments simply do not equal what the average salon owner earns when their salon is operating. We all want to get back behind the chairs and beds as soon as we can.

As soon as hair and beauty salons can open, we want salon owners to be ready to meet whatever standards or requirements that the State and Federal governments ask for.

With that said, as HABA is the registered employers’ organisation, we do give our input and push our key concerns to government representatives. However, any final decision is being made across all industries and not just hair and beauty. Salon owners and staff clearly work in close proximity to our customers, which in a health crisis is a true cause for concern. Where we do have room to push back on government proposals is on requirements that have been placed on our industry from other industries that do not make sense due to the nature of our work, the health standards that we meet, and the way we have operated throughout the last 18 months.

We have faith that our members believe that the health of both the community, our employees and our colleagues is important and that our members will do their part in ensuring their safety. However, some government requirements have not been up for debate by industry associations, which is frustrating to us all.

Salons will open, and once they do, HABA’s focus is protecting you as employers. We want you to be able to operate as you wish, while meeting your requirements as an employer and meeting your legal obligations based on State and Federal government regulations to open. We want you to be ready to meet whatever the final restrictions are, so that you can open safely and without fear of fines and liabilities, as quickly as possible.

We believe that there is a bit of a misunderstanding of what HABA are trying to achieve for salon owners. As an example, HABA does not have a firm position for or against vaccines. Instead, we want to make sure that salon owners have the right to choose and are aware of the consequences of that choice. The talk of choice as an employer comes with many consequences that we as an employer group want to help you navigate in dealing with your staff and the various government agencies.

Firstly, we do not believe hair and beauty will fall into a mandatory vaccination tier based on our conversations with various health departments. This may change, but at this time, this is where we believe state-level health departments will end up.  It will be up to the salon owners to choose if they want their employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. In this situation, HABA is here to protect employers and their rights as a business owner. What do you do if an employee refuses to get a vaccine and you decide it is mandatory in your salon? What if an employee gets sick in either scenario, vaccine, or no vaccine? We want to make sure that you are protected at Fair Work.

A strict rule or condition that mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, including people with certain disabilities, medical conditions or who are pregnant, may engage the ‘indirect discrimination provisions in the SDA, the DDA, and the ADA.

So, while it remains your choice as a salon owner to do what is best for your salon, this decision could have future ramifications with your employees and we want to make sure you are protected, no matter your decision.

If vaccines are not mandatory and you choose not to make them required in your salon, as a business owner you also need to make sure you are protected from both sick customers, customers who become sick who may view you as liable, or sick employees who end up on long-term sick leave. It is your choice, but we want to make sure that it is communicated properly and that your salon is compliant with the Fair Work Ombudsman, so you are not held liable, and so you meet all the health and safety standards to protect you and your business.

If the government mandated that hair and beauty workers had to be vaccinated, as they have in other industries, then we want to make sure employers will not be liable for any future issues that may occur. If the government forces salons to be fully vaccinated to be open and operating, then like the Drs and Pharmacies who administer vaccines, salon owners should be free from any future liabilities. The buck should stop at the government, not the salon owner.

Finally, what are your rights regarding both vaccinated or unvaccinated customers? Currently, there is no specific law requiring COVID-19 vaccination. Businesses and service providers should be cautious about imposing a blanket rule requiring vaccination as a condition of entry or as a condition for the delivery or provision of goods, services, or facilities. A strict rule or condition that requires COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry, or as a condition for the delivery or provision of goods, services, or facilities, may engage the ‘indirect discrimination provisions in the SDA, the DDA, and the ADA. However, this is not clear and something HABA will be keeping on top of on your behalf.

The issues HABA focuses on are different than some of the others who speak loudly in our industry. HABA represents salon owners as employers and believes that a successful hair and beauty industry is one where both employers and employees thrive together. As business owners, we know that it is hard and stressful to run a business and our role is to try, as best we can, to help you do so successfully.

We want salons to safely open as quickly as possible. We want business owners to BE READY when the starting gun goes off.

Do you require further advice?
For information or assistance relating to vaccines within your salon, please contact the Hair and Beauty Australia Workplace Advice Line on (02) 9221 9911, which is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm AEST, or email on info@askhaba.com.au.

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