Employers are turning staff away because they have tattoos, new research finds

Tattooed staff and candidates could be missing out on lucrative roles. Picture: Flickr (labelled for reuse)
Tattooed staff and candidates could be missing out on lucrative roles. Picture: Flickr (labelled for reuse)
Picture: Shaun Roster

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EMPLOYERS could be turning away talented staff because they have tattoos – and may be missing out on talent, a senior employment lawyer has warned.

It comes as new research shows the majority of employers are less likely to give a job to someone with tattoos on their neck, hand or face.

Simon Rhodes. Picture: Trethowans

Simon Rhodes. Picture: Trethowans

A YouGov survey of HR decision makers published this week found six in ten employers – 61 per cent of participants – said they were ‘substantially’ less likely to hire someone with tattoos on their face.

Neck tattoos and hand tattoos were not viewed kindly by most employers in the survey either, with 66 per cent and 60 per cent respectively saying a candidate sporting them is less likely to be taken on.

Employment law expert Simon Rhodes, from Hampshire law firm Trethowans, said in a current ‘talent war’ climate, employers shouldn’t discount candidates because of tattoos.

Also addressing potential candidates, he urged them to ‘think before they ink’ – to avoid being singled out when applying for employment.

He said: ‘Visible tattoos have become more and more popular and so they have less of an impact than they did 20 years ago, but this week’s research shows that they can still affect your employment options.

‘If you have visible tattoos an employer might see you as a proud individual and not necessarily as a good team player. ‘That leaves a question mark over how well you’ll fit into the team, so give examples of how you’ve worked well as part of team when you apply for jobs.

‘Ultimately if you have a tattoo you have to accept that you may be stopping yourself from getting a job you really want, but equally employers should be open minded and focus on the needs of the job.’

Mr Rhodes said employers have the right to turn down candidates if visible tattoos affect their job – for example, if it could cause offence to customers.

The YouGov survey found employers were split on sleeve tattoos covering a candidate’s whole arm.

Half of the participants, 50 per cent, said they are less likely to hire someone who has one, while 45 per cent said it would make no difference.

Additionally, 53 per cent of employers said they were not concerned about forearm tattoos and 66 per cent about upper arm tattoos, while ink on the lower back emerged the least likely to affect employment chances.

Overall, only between four and six per cent of survey participants said they were more likely to hire someone with tattoos.