Dear would-be employer of massage therapists,
I hail from Washington State USA, one of the few places in my country that recongizes and licenses massage therapists as healthcare providers.
I teach a 4-hour continuing education course on the subject of Employment Law for Massage Therapists in Washington State. This advice is specifically intended for those within the evergreen state, and likely (at least partly) inconsequential for all others.
Here's the thing for those of you who want in on the massage business. Maybe you want to start a salon or spa. Maybe you already own such an establishment, or run a hotel or resort somewhere.
You want to hire massage therapists because everybody loves massage, and it's a great way to attract customers while giving your bottom line a little boost.
Here's the kick in the pants though. You can't.
That's right, you are not allowed to hire massage therapists just because it fits nicely into your business model.
As I look around my beloved state and the state of my beloved profession, I see that there are lot of small and medium sized companies willy-nilly staffing licensed massage therapists. Licensed healthcare providers who are overseen by the Secretary of the Department of Health.
Not physical therapists, doctors, optometrists or chiropractors. Just massage therapists.
Now here's the thing. If you are a massage therapist, or your company has at least one shareholder who is a massage therapist, then you get the green light to hire and supervise me and my colleagues. However, if you're not - then you don't get to make our profession your business.
You cannot employ us!
Here's the major reason why.
You're not healthcare providers who have massage therapy in your scope of practice, therefore you are not able to create a suitable massage facility or supervise massage therapists to ensure their work meets standards.
The Corporate Practice of Medicine and Corporate Practice of Learned Professions have been used in lawsuits where companies employing massage therapists while lacking a licensed massage therapist owner or shareholder, were taken to court over unlawfully providing healthcare services. Judges state that employment of massage therapists by non-licensed professionals is not allowed, setting a strong precedent.
Now, you may be absolutely shocked to read this. In fact, I bet a lot of massage therapists are shocked to read this. It's common knowledge that's commonly ignored.
We're in Washington where massage therapists are healthcare providers and therefore unemployable by estheticians, nail techs, hair stylists, and anyone else who wants to get into the salon/spa/clinic business.
In the same way medical doctors cannot be employed by non-doctors or lower level healthcare providers such as physical therapists. It makes sense!
If you're a physical therapist, physician, chiropractor or acupuncturist who wants to build a massage business - that's another issue. Since massage is within your scope of practice and you are healthcare providers who can supervise massage therapists. You get the green light!
For those who are stuck without any massage training or healthcare license, you might think the perfect solution is to make your massage therapist independent contractors. Well, you can't do that either without breaking a bunch of laws.
There is a way to have massage in your salon, spa, hotel or resort. It's not even complicated and totally legal.
To learn how and all you need to know about employment laws in Washington State, take my online class when you become a site subscriber, and save yourself the headache of a major faux pas.