Update: Both AB 2437 and AB 2125 have been signed into law by Gov. Brown.

The California state legislature experienced a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the final recess of its 2016 session on August 31.

Among the bills passed were AB 2437 and AB 2125, which would implement changes to improve the working conditions and health and safety of nail salon employees.

AB 2437

AB 2437, which was introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would improve working conditions for nail salon employees by helping them and their employers to better understand current labor laws.

According to the text of the bill itself:

“This bill would require, on and after July 1, 2017, an establishment licensed by the [State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology] to post a notice in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean regarding workplace rights and wage and hour laws … in a conspicuous location in clear view of employees and where similar notices are customarily posted…”

The notice shall include the following information:

“(1) Misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor.

(2) Wage and hour laws, including, but not limited to, minimum wage, overtime compensation, meal periods, and rest periods.

(3) Tip or gratuity distribution.

(4) How to report violations of the law.

(5) Business expense reimbursement.

(6) Protection from retaliation.”

The Need for AB 2437

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which is a sponsor of AB 2437, provided some statistics that help explain the need for this bill:

“California has over 95,000 licensed nail salon employees at over 8,000 nail salons. Approximately 80% of nail salon owners and employees are Vietnamese immigrant women who often speak limited English.”

Ting added:

“Nail salon workers are frequently underpaid, overworked, and misclassified as independent contractors. We can overcome language barriers to help everyone comply with and benefit from the law through providing information about worker’s rights to nail salon workers and owners.”

Community Support for AB 2437

In addition to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, AB 2437 has gained support from Community Health for Asian Americans and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.

AB 2437: Support from the Community

According to a recent press release from Ting’s office, Andrew Medina, California Policy Manager for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California, and Tracey Nguyen, Community Organizer for Community Health for Asian Americans, said:

“AB 2437 is important to ensure adequate training for employers and employees, which would cultivate a safe and healthy work environment for all employers, employees, and consumers within the nail salon industry.”

According to the same statement, Catherine A. Porter, Policy Director for the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, added:

“More language accessible information for workers and owners on these issues will go a long way toward improving the working conditions for this predominately Vietnamese women worker community.”

AB 2125

AB 2125 is another bill that would improve working conditions for nail salon employees.

Introduced by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the bill was co-authored by a handful of Assemblymembers and Senators, including Phil Ting.

Rather than focusing on translation and posting of labor laws, AB 2125 aims to improve the health and safety of nail salon workers.

Specifically, the bill would require the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to establish guidelines that cities and counties throughout the state can use to voluntarily implement “Healthy Nail Salon Recognition programs.”

“This bill encourages businesses to voluntarily become healthier nail salons, which will help both their workers and their patrons,” said Assemblymember Chiu in a recent statement.

Chiu added:

AB 2437 and AB 2125: Bills to Protect Nail Salon EmployeesImage credit

Laying the Groundwork for AB 2125

Chiu has a long track-record when it comes to fighting to improve the working conditions of nail salon employees.

As a San Francisco Supervisor in 2010, Chiu partnered with advocates of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative to pass the first Healthy Nail Salon ordinance in the country, which established the Healthy Nail Salon Recognition program.

The “Pretty Shouldn’t Stink” program, which is managed by San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, educates nail salons about less-toxic products and how to ensure proper ventilation and also provides recognition for their “healthy” efforts.

Since the program was implemented in San Francisco, five other counties in California have followed suit and created similar programs.

Next Steps

AB 2437 passed the Senate on August 17 by a vote of 26-13 and then was approved by the Assembly on August 23 with a 54-25 vote.

AB 2125 passed the Senate on August 19 by a vote of 37-0 and then was approved by the Assembly on August 24 with a 77-3 vote.

Both bills have now been sent to Governor Jerry Brown, who has until the end of September to either sign or veto each of them.

UPDATE: Gov. Brown signed AB 2437 into law on September 14.

SECOND UPDATE: Gov. Brown signed AB 2125 into law on September 24.

Feature image credit