Employers warned to change ‘outdated’ tattoo policies
ACAS warns employers they're shooting themselves in the foot by rejecting bright candidates with tattoos, which are now the norm amongst young people.
Credit: JM3 – Flickr
ACAS, a government-run advisory board for employers and employees, has spoken out about what they deem as ‘outdated’ policies regarding visible tattoos in the workplace.
A YouGov poll last year found that nearly one in five young people in the UK now have a tattoo (as much as 13% of people under the age of 24) and nearly 50% say they’ve considered getting one.
So as tattoos increasingly become the norm amongst young people, is it time that businesses got with the times and stopped associating body modification with sadists and criminals?
What the experts say
Dr Andrew Timming at St. Andrews University has been researching attitudes towards tattoos during hiring processes, and says he thinks the way employees view potential candidates with visible tattoos will soon have to change.
He told the BBC:
There's a tidal wave of young people with tattoos these days and they're not always going to be young. Employers are going to have to accept that they're integral to the fabric of society and accept that they may potentially have a place at work.
Dr Timming claims a lot of businesses – particularly in marketing and creative industries – now even consider tattoos an asset, as they can be a sign of original thinking and creativity.
Although tattoos have become extremely fashionable in recent years, the danger is that fashions change, tastes change, and circumstances change too (regretting that tatt of your ex's name on your butt yet?).
According to YoungGov’s poll, as much as 11% of under 24s with tattoos say they’ve regretted their decision to get a tattoo, or regretted the design they went for.
One Senior Manager with the emergency services told ACAS they turned down a candidate on account of a tattoo on her head, explaining:
Well how stupid are you, at what point did you think a tattoo on your head was going to be acceptable?
However, ACAS thinks businesses are taking a big risk nowadays by rejecting candidates on account of visible tattoos – they could be missing out on some of the best talent the UK has to offer, and could stifle diversity in the workplace.
Stephen Williams, head of equality at Acas, said:
Whilst it remains a legitimate business decision, a dress code that restricts people with tattoos might mean companies are missing out on talented workers.
We know that employers with a diverse workforce can reap many business benefits as they can tap into the knowledge and skills of staff from a wide range of backgrounds.
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