Is a tattoo taboo in your workplace?

The issue of visible tattoos on employees can be a difficult topic for an employer to broach.

Many employers are still put off when interviewing candidates if they have a visible tattoo despite their increasing popularity.

Should a tattoo be a deciding factor on the candidate’s ability and suitability for the role? That’s a taboo subject!

Some employers remain hesitant in employing candidates with visible tattoos and about allowing employees with visible tattoos to be customer facing, fearing it encourages a negative image for the business.

Applying modern day thinking in a recruitment process will mean that you don’t miss out on the best person for the job, but is that in line with your company culture? Of course, some of this may depend on the tattoo itself and where it’s located but is it time we’re all a bit more open minded?

Employers are free to implement their own rules on the displaying of tattoos in the workplace. There is no law which prohibits you from asking workers to cover up tattoos, or even to impose a blanket ban on them throughout your organisation, unless it is proven the tattoos are for religious purposes.

However, before making an ultimate decision, employers should consider the detrimental effect it may have on attracting and recruiting staff and in workplace morale.

Imposing a ban on body ink could result in employers encountering resistance from existing employees and even lead to them losing otherwise highly skilled and valued members of staff.

Before asking the employee to cover up their tattoo, you should first check whether you have a dress code in place. Most dress codes will contain rules about tattoos and, if there is such a code, then you should hold an informal meeting with the employee and remind them of the code and what this means for their tattoo. If there is no dress code in place then you should consider introducing one.

These are useful to explain all the business rules surrounding appearance and can also include what employees should do regarding tattoos on days such as dress down days.

While this topic can be frustrating for employers, clear company policies and fair, open reasoning should be maintained to encourage the continued productivity and wellbeing of the workforce.

Who knows, the future leaders and Managers could be tattoo wearers and todays stigma may be completely lifted. It may become harder to find candidates without them? Who knows. But if you want to be perceived as a forward thinking business who attracts the best talent regardless of tattoos, maybe it’s time to review your company policy now.

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