The Hair and Beauty Australia Industry Association (HABA) has noticed a general trend towards a system of ‘hours owing’, a system it warns against. The arrangement involves allowing or directing employees to leave early, on the provision that they will owe the salon a number of hours to be utilised at another time, such as during a particularly busy period in the salon. It sounds simple, but it’s tricker than it looks.


This high risk system is an issue for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is no guarantee the employee will repay the hours if they were to leave the salon. The employer may then have to exert time drafting letters of demand or going through the court system to regain these costs.

The hours owing structure also clashes with an overtime system, for which employees are generally paid more at a rate of time and a half for the first three hours and double thereafter. If an employee works overtime but it is counted as time owed, at what rate then should be paid? The semantics are murky when it comes to these two conflicting systems.

So what can your salon do instead?

If it is the employee who is insisting on leaving early, they must provide documentation outlining their request to leave work and understanding that they won’t be paid for this time. Employers must then sign off on this unpaid leave.

If it is the employer who wants the employee to leave during a quiet time in the salon, HABA advises finding other productive duties the employee could be undertaking such as cleaning or training on retail products instead of the employee going home. Employers cannot send a permanent (full time or part time) employee home early without pay or take this time from their leave entitlements.

For more information contact HABA on 1800 997 795 or visit