Industry responds to problem of illegally trafficked nail technicians


The beauty industry’s governing bodies have called for tougher regulation in the sector following the recent reports regarding illegally trafficked workers employed in low cost nail bars.

Babtac chair Carolyne Cross has said that her organisation is running a campaign to drive industry regulation and push to raise awareness of the importance of visiting therapists that are qualified, verified and insured. 

Meanwhile, Habia is preparing for the launch of its Register of Nail Professionals in October, which will be accessible to the public so clients can identify appropriately qualified technicians.

This comes following the reports in The Sunday Times that many of Britain’s low cost high street nail bars could be staffed by Vietnamese men and women that have been smuggled into the country and forced to work for scant wages. The report estimated the number of victims to be in the tens of thousands.

“Given the ease of access into our industry and the lack of regulation, human trafficking problems are an unfortunate and terrible side-effect,” said Cross. “Whilst we do not and cannot actively support victims, we do encourage both industry professionals and consumers to look out for the signs and work to report and prevent this suffering.”

Babtac says clients should look out for therapists that are reluctant to build relationships with customers, or who live in the same premises as they work or who are unable to leave the salon without their employers, as these could all be potential warning signs. Cross added that clients should inform the police if they have any suspicions.

Stuart Turner, head of standards and qualifications at SkillsActive, the body that will oversee the Register of Nail Professionals and of which Habia is a part, says, “We are working hard to ensure that the workforce of the UK’s beauty industry is improved and only contains those who have had the correct training to carry out these services. Once this takes place consumer confidence will be higher, the professionalism of the industry will be more pronounced and most importantly, we can go a long  way to addressing this very serious problem.”