It can be really hard to find the courage to speak out when you know something is wrong. But for our ambassador Lily, she’s always stuck up for herself and her co-workers, and she’s on a mission to help other hair and beauty workers to find their voice.
Lily’s story with HSA began when she resigned from a salon she’d been working in. “All seemed to be well,” Lily remembers, “and then I was asked to come into the salon to sign papers for my final pay.”
“I was taken into a private room, and by boss said to me I had stolen her clients and her pictures,” she says. “I had no clients details or had done any clients, as I’d barely even started my new job.”
Lily was forced into signing a contract stating she would pay $12,000 in ‘good will’, starting with $2,000 up-front. She wasn’t allowed to call a solicitor. “I was told if I didn’t sign then and there, she would take me to court for up to $20,000 or more.”
After signing the contract, she called HSA. “Immediately I was in contact with a solicitor who ran me through the process, and explained to me she coerced me into signing something illegally,” she says. Her boss had also not paid her superannuation and withheld her final pay. With the help of HSA, her former employer backed off and dropped the contract.
“While this was going on,” Lily says, “I was receiving calls at my new salon, harassed, had my number put on websites for car dealerships to call me.” Her new boss also received phone calls from her ex-boss, badmouthing her and spreading false information in an attempt to get her fired.
Everything seemed OK, and Lily stuck to her guns in her new salon. “Throughout my time there, I stood up for the girls’ rights, my rights and for what I believed in,” she says, “not just as an employee, but as a person.”
But two years later, things turned sour at work, and her boss refused to pay for legal entitlements, like penalty rates for working on an RDO. “I was told if I didn’t work, I would have to work extra hours the next day, alone, to make up for it,” Lily says. “She thought she could verbally tell me she would change my roster to get out of paying me.”
Again, Lily called HSA. “I was told my legal standpoint, but I did let this go, as my boss at the time could get very aggro and stomp through the salon when they were angry with you.”
When she became pregnant, Lily ‘s boss warned she wouldn’t get any special treatment. “But I didn’t know that meant being refused to go home sick, especially if I had clients in. I found out [that’s] against OHS, and I’ve seen it done to us all over the years, on many occasions, in many salons.”
Then the final straw came when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country. “I was stood down due to lack of work, which was fine… until I saw her posting on social media promoting my position as available a few months later.”
Luckily for Lily, she now works for herself. She also picks up extra days in a new salon, and she hasn’t looked back. “It’s been fantastic,” she says, “they’re all family people and they support one another and understand the things that go on. They don’t push you to do things you can’t do.”
While the legal advice has been a huge help for Lily, she says the value of HSA goes far beyond that. “I have always been switched on in regards to legal situations and my rights, but it’s been great knowing I can always turn to Melanie,” she says.
“It’s like having a friend to talk to when you’re not sure what to do, but also someone who will tell you your rights and legal standpoint and be by your side every step of the way. Without the advice of HSA, I don’t know where I would be how I would continue to be treated – or how much money I would be out of pocket.”
Lily’s excited to help spread the word about HSA and help more women and men in the industry find their voice. “The small amount you pay for this union is nothing compared to the services, friendship and help they give you,” she says.
“I couldn’t have done the last three years without you guys!”