Having tattoos no longer affects your chances of getting a job, study finds

Take that, judgy relatives

Sarah Young
Tuesday 14 August 2018 16:24 BST

Contrary to popular belief, having a tattoo no longer impedes your chances of getting a job.

Published in the journal Human Resources, a new study by the University of Miami Business School and the University of Western Australia Business School has found that the perception of tattoos in the workplace has changed so much in recent years that visible body art is no longer linked to individual employment or wage discrimination.

Collecting data from more than 2,000 participants from all 50 states in the US, the study found that the annual earnings of tattooed employees were statistically "indistinguishable" from those without them.

In fact, they found that tattooed job seekers were not only just as likely to get a job as non-tattooed candidates but, in some instances, were even more likely to be hired.

However, the finding related to the higher level of employability for tattooed people only applies to men.

“Surprisingly, among men, we found that having one or more tattoo was associated with a slight, but significant, increase in employability, around 7.3 per cent relative to the mean.

"Among women, no difference in employability was found between those with and without tattoos," co-author Andrew Timming, associate professor of human resource management at the University of Western Australia Business School told The Independent.

“In aggregate, we find no evidence of discrimination against people with tattoos.

“They earn just as much as people without tattoos and are just as likely to be employed. Public perceptions toward tattoos have changed very quickly, with more and more people embracing body art.

“This may be explained by the fact that many young people have gotten tattoos in the last coupled decades, and as they age, they become managers and decision-makers. They are therefore more accepting of body art than their older colleagues.”

The new findings follow traditional lines of thought that suggest bosses generally see tattooed people as less employable.

Acas, an employer’s advice group and conciliation service, previously urged firms to change their attitudes towards body art, arguing that companies could be missing out on talented staff due to their outdated attitudes.

It revealed that while a third of young people have tattoos, some companies and individual managers were still worried about the image it would give to potential customers.

“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,” Stephen Williams, Acas head of Equality, 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,” he added.

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