Why Can’t I Just Be a Contractor?

Ivonne Herrera
Hairstylist at Hair-Era by Herrera

You know that feeling when you’ve been pampered for a big night? You get your hair done, spend hours picking your outfit, and now the confidence to go with it. Well, my job is to provide that magic to you.

I have been a hair stylist for 10 years, nine of which I spent booking appointments with clients and renting salon space. Since California’s sharing economy took off, I have also worked as a Glamsquad professional for the last four-and-a-half years, bringing beauty and ease to your living room. These options allow me to work when I want, freeing myself to take my kids to school and volunteer with young cancer patients.

In other words, I bring you magic.

This opportunity has been the highlight of my career. Like anything worth having, leaving the corporate world over a decade ago in order to pursue my passion meant sacrifice. My husband and I committed ourselves to earning our income through independent contracting and that choice has more than paid off.

Our early sacrifices led to immediate flexibility and control of my own schedule. Rather than catching up with my family later in the evenings and on weekends, I booked my clients based on my own calendar. I was able to take and pick up my daughters from school, spend time with my family, and schedule time to give back to my community. One my proudest contributions is the time I spend with young cancer patients, creating the opportunity for them to feel beautiful during a fight that is often so dim.

My ability to make this contribution, support my family, and maintain a flexible work-life balance is rooted in my status as an independent contractor. There has been much discussion lately in the news and amongst lawmakers about independent contracting, and it is important to make clear distinctions between my classification and that of an employee.

As an independent contractor, I communicate directly with clients in order to book appointments, manage my portfolio and build my business. This is the key factor for my flexibility as a mother and a professional. Traditional employees, which I once was when I first began hair styling, do not have this autonomy. Employees must work during specific times determined by their employer. While employers are able to predetermine different working hours, nothing requires them to ensure flexibility the way controlling my own schedule does.

Furthermore, handling my own schedule, rather than being told when to show up and go home, provides me the freedom to take breaks throughout the day to tend to other responsibilities. For instance, I can book clients from 1pm and 4pm, allowing myself time to pick up my kids from school and return to work. However, as an employee, I would be allotted specific break times at specific hours. The rigidity of these regulations prevents me from skipping a meal break in order to leave early to pick my kids up from school. As a mother and a professional, the choice is clear: remain an independent contractor.

Easier said than done.

My plan to remain an independent contractor is at risk due to a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling, the so-called Dynamex decision, which redefines the classification of an independent contractor. Meaning: I may be forced to become an employee of a salon or beauty company, and forced to maintain specific, rigid hours that prevent me from caring for my family, providing a gift to young cancer patients and being available to clients when it’s convenient for them.

My ask to lawmakers is simple: protect my freedom, flexibility, and my status as an independent contractor.

Ivonne Herrera of Sherman Oaks is a hair stylist who operates Hair-Era by Herrera and works at a shop in Burbank.

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