There’s one thing every trained hair stylist has in common – they started their career as an apprentice. Ripping tinfoil, sweeping floors and manning the basin is all in a day’s work. But when something goes wrong, who do you turn to?

Ruby-Rose, an HSA ambassador, has come forward with her apprenticeship story, and why it pays to stay on top of your superannuation.

At first, it was her and the owner in the salon, and Ruby says the two got along well. A year after she started, the salon owner hired a senior hair stylist – our own organiser, Melanie, who was at the time a delegate for HSA.

Melanie immediately realised something wasn’t right. “She said are you getting paid super, and I said I didn’t know,” Ruby recalls. “I made an account and gave her [the boss] my details. She said no worries.”

It wasn’t just superannuation. “Mel said where are the payslips? I said, I dunno. I don’t know any of this stuff.”

Eventually, Ruby and Melanie did get their payslips. “She wrote on the payslips that we were being paid our super,” Ruby says, “and we were led to believe that was happening.”

But when Ruby checked her superannuation account, she got a nasty shock. “My super had been closed, and it turns out there were no contributions made in the two-and-a-half years I’d been there.”

Ruby was thousands of dollars out of pocket, she says, from unpaid super and other entitlements. It was only with the support and guidance of HSA that she raised a case against the salon owner. “HSA pretty much showed me what was supposed to be happening.”

In Ruby’s case, she is owed $3000 of unpaid superannuation from her apprenticeship, and thankfully, the salon owner has recognised the mistake and is in the process of paying Ruby back. We’re pleased the owner is working with Ruby and HSA to fix this, as a number of salon owners we’ve dealt with haven’t been so helpful when it comes to unpaid superannuation.

Ruby is now in a salon that pays her full entitlements, and she’s excited about her career again. “I didn’t even know what a bloody payslip was!” She laughs. “I had no idea.”

It touches on a larger issue in the industry – who is responsible for educating apprentices on their rights? What happens when a salon owner denies staff entitlements, who don’t realise what is going on?

Ruby was lucky to work with Melanie, who knew the Hair and Beauty Award inside and out, but for most stylists and apprentices, that’s not the case. That’s why at HSA we’re working our hardest to increase awareness of your rights and entitlements at work – and will back you up if you’re not getting what you’re owed.

Superannuation is a legal entitlement for everyone earning over $450 a month in Australia, whether you’re full-time, part-time or casual. Unfortunately, many workers aren’t claiming their super, or, like Ruby, aren’t being paid out, and they don’t even realise until it’s too late.

It’s one of the most common issues our legal officers have to deal with, which is why we’ve partnered up with AustralianSuper to ensure our members are looked after. If you haven’t looked at your super account in a while, or if you’re not sure you’re receiving what you’re owed, then it’s time to sign up and let HSA and AustralianSuper help you figure out your superannuation. The sooner you recognise something is wrong, then the easier it will be to reclaim what you’re owed.

To Ruby, HSA is an invaluable resource that has not only helped her super claim, but also educated her on day-to-day issues in the hair and beauty industry. “There have been so many stupid questions I have asked over the past few years, and Mel always has an answer,” she says. “If you have an issue, big or small, it’s always worth resolving.”

“Hairdressing is hard enough without all the financial bullshit.”