ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday signed legislation to protect barbershop, beauty shop and salon service providers against individuals who steal their services.

The bill closes a loophole in the law to include the failure to pay for services provided by a barbershop, salon, or beauty shop. The new law will make it a class A misdemeanor.

"Beauty salons and barber shops are no different than other small businesses whose livelihoods depend on the support of their communities," Governor Cuomo said. "This legislation closes a nonsensical loophole that gives these businesses equal protection under the law once and for all."

It was already a misdemeanor to leave a restaurant without paying, but under the old law it wasn't a crime to do the same thing at a barbershop or salon, meaning owners had little recourse when a customer skipped out on a bill. Often, they would have to go to small claims court or just write off the loss.

"With this new law, we are taking a major step forward to prevent theft and protect beauty shops and barber shops across New York," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "These small businesses are cornerstones of communities from Buffalo to Brooklyn, and when they lose out on compensation for the services they provide, it often brings significant financial hardship. By strengthening the law to allow for theft of services prosecution, we are bringing peace of mind to small business owners who work tirelessly day in and day out."

Under current law, an individual who knowingly fails to pay for a service is not subject to criminal prosecution, leaving certain small business owners at risk of great financial loss. This new bill will amend the law to protect those merchants who provide nonmaterial products by making it a criminal offense to obtain services from a barbershop, beauty shop or salon without paying for that service.

Senator Marisol Alcantara said, "Small businesses like beauty shops and barber shops depend on the patronage of their community members, and when individuals take advantage of local businesses it puts them at great financial risk. By adding this protection for small business owners, this bill will ensure that these businesses that are so critical to local economies can continue to thrive and succeed. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued support of small business."

Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman said, "Individuals who trained in the barbering and cosmetology licensed professions offer services to the public for which they should be compensated. This law now protects these service providers in a way they've never been protected before. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and my colleague Senator Alcantara, for ensuring the protection and court representation of these merchants."