An image of a person in front of a verification icon is used to illustrate the concept of online safety.

An association focused on enhancing safety in the massage and spa industry is putting an end to the dangerous pattern of a spa-service employee breaching safety protocols at one spa and then, after quitting or being terminated, securing employment at another franchise location with no knowledge on the part of the employer of the prior situation.

NASF (National Association of Spa Franchises)

The National Association of Spa Franchises (NASF) comprises nine national massage brands—Hand & Stone, Elements Massage, LaVida, Massage Heights, MassageLuXe, Spavia, Woodhouse, Milk + Honey and Zen Massage—and is open to additional members

Cindy Meiskin
Cindy Meiskin

“We all agree that safety and security are paramount, and we need to work together to build up the industry,” NASF President and Chief Experience Officer at Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Cindy Meiskin told MASSAGE Magazine. Hand & Stone, Elements and Massage Heights are NASF’s founding members.

Better Identifying Those with Prior Safety Violations

The NASF has engaged with Crimcheck, a DISA Company and background screening provider, to enable participating spas to perform more robust employment verifications.  These verifications are designed to help spa franchises better assess whether a prospective employee has breached a safety protocol at a prior spa franchise.

To enable Crimcheck to provide meaningful and accurate reports to participating spas, members of NASF have furnished Crimcheck with detailed information as to former employees who were terminated for breaching safety protocols or resigned after an incident in which they had breached a safety protocol within the past seven years. NASF members have also pledged to provide Crimcheck with information regarding new safety violations on a going-forward basis.

Since the enhanced background screening program became available, over 12,000 verifications have been performed by participating brands’ spas. The verifications have resulted in 13 instances in which a prospective employee was found to have previously breached a safety protocol at a prior employer.

“That’s 13 massage therapists who left a brand after breaching safety protocols or were terminated for breaching safety protocols; the system is working allowing prospective employers to make informed decisions.” said Meiskin.

NASF defines “breaching safety protocols” to include, among other things, inappropriate touch. “Inappropriate touch” means contact by a service provider that is sexual in nature, including but not limited to the following:

1. Any contact or touching of a sexual nature that involves a person’s genitals, breasts, buttocks, or private areas.

2. Intentional exposure of the private areas of the body in a lewd or indecent manner.

3. Touching, groping, or grabbing a client’s private areas or making physical contact of a perceived sexual nature, including kissing any area of the client’s body.

4. Any instance of a service provider putting their hands inside of their pants or rubbing their private parts on any other object or person with the intent of sexual stimulation and/or personal gratification.

When a service provider breaches safety protocols, the potential for risk and trauma to the clients is great and the impact on the spa and its employees is significant.  Meiskin emphasized that the bad behavior of a few service providers negatively affects the specific brands and the massage industry generally.

“For the 99.9% of massage therapists who are practicing for all the right reasons, and who value their craft and love helping people, they should welcome the additional due diligence. The EVS will help their careers flourish as it makes the industry a safer place for everyone,” said Meiskin.   

Ethics Training

Those few service providers who act on specific bad intent to engage in misconduct begs the question of how they became certified to enter a massage or related career. The NASF plans to tackle this issue by contributing to ethics training at schools.

Meiskin explained that if ethics are a required component of curriculum, a student with “predatory or perverse intentions” might think twice about whether they should pursue a career in massage and consequently drop out before ever achieving employment in a spa.

A Powerful Tool

Representatives of the NASF’s member organizations gather quarterly to share ideas and best practices and to brainstorm about the challenges facing the industry. It is also a great opportunity for the members to network with one another and invite guest speakers.

To any franchise that has not yet joined NASF, Meiskin said she “would emphatically inquire as to, ‘Why not? What’s holding you back?’

“We all must be responsible for keeping the industry safe,” she said. “The more brands that join, whether big or small, the more powerful the tool.”

For more information and to join the National Association of Spa Franchises, visit

About the Author

Karen Menehan

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief–print and digital. Her articles for this publication include “This is How Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practices Make Business Better,” one of the articles in the August 2021 issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a first-place winner of a national 2022 Folio Eddies Award for editorial excellence.