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5th October 2016

Stigma of Tattoos Means Businesses Miss Out on Talent

New research published by the conciliatory body ACAS has suggested that employees with visible tattoos face discrimination in the work place and in the application process. The research suggests that, within the application and recruitment process, employers are concerned about how visible tattoos will be perceived by customers and ACAS has set out a warning to businesses that negative attitudes towards tattoos may mean they are missing out on young, talented staff.

The research found that having a visible tattoo can decrease an employee’s chances or promotion and can hinder applicants’ job prospects.

The Equality Act 2010 at present does not specifically protect those with tattoos or body modifications from discrimination. However, ACAS has warned that by imposing measures such as banning tattoos, employers are risking unhappy employees which might result in challenges on the grounds of human rights. Stephen Williams, the Head of Equality at ACAS said: ‘Businesses are perfectly within their right to have rules around appearance at work, but these rules should be based on the law where appropriate, and the needs of the business, not managers’ personal preferences …Almost a third of young people now have tattoos so, whilst it remains a legitimate business decision, a dress code that restricts people with tattoos might mean companies are missing out on talented workers.’

In light of the research, ACAS has updated its guidance on dress codes which now includes advice about tattoos and body modifications. The guidance advises employers that they may want to ask employees to remove piercings or cover tattoos whilst at work in order to maintain the image of the organisation; however ACAS emphasise the importance of having a written dress code so that all employees know the expectations of the employer.

Source: Chadwick Lawrence

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