Taboo on the Tattoo.
High street music retailer, HMV, have reportedly introduced a new “appearance policy” requiring employees to smarten up, or face disciplinary action. The new policy dictates that “high standards of personal grooming” will be expected. Long hair must be tied up and while “discreet” tattoos or piercings will be allowed, the new policy states that “extreme body art” must be re
Now what is the issue here and how does it apply to Employment Law.
You would think that HMW being involved in the music industry would attract younger people to work there and in doing so, these younger people would be able to express themselves.
Just go into any town or city these days and see the difference between how staff dress is a fine dining restaurant to how they dress in a hip club of any musical bent.
There has always been a distinction in the past, but now it seems more pronounced.
I can only think that they are trying to cater for all of their audience. Remember the old adage, the customer is always right.
HMV are fighting for their corporate life as the buying pattern of their audience changes. Illegal and now legal downloads mean you don’t need a physical record store any more.
If you have been to HMW recently you can see what I mean in their diversity and range of stock.
Older people are most likely to still purchase films and music in the way they have done, which is with a physical media.
Would your mother or grandmother be afraid of the staff with arm sleeve tattoos working in HMV or similar?
In the past Tatoos were the preserve of the supposed underclass or something you did in the forces. Not now, you only have to look at David Beckham to see this.
Art imitating life imitating art? However, one person’s choices don’t mean that everyone should or has to approve.
A spokesperson for HMV has made the following statement:
“Media reports on this have been somewhat sensationalised, and we’re not trying to ban tattoos or anything else for that matter, but if someone does have extensive body art – whether in-store or at head office, we would expect them to cover this up whilst working… It goes without saying that we want our work colleagues to feel valued as individuals who can express their personalities, but it’s also important that we balance this against the needs and expectations of our customers, who, ultimately, have to be at the heart of everything we do.”
In the wider scheme the issue isn’t even the tattoos, but more easily and perhaps more controversially the denim policy. That is that males must wear jeans and females must wear skirts.
Before you think us prudish or sexist, we are most defiantly not, but in imposing a blanket look for a dress code, HMV have failed to take into account the basic rules on the Equality Act 2010.
If you force someone to wear something they are uncomfortable with and they feel is either for reasons (direct or indirect) on sex or religion, then they are potentially storing up more trouble than just the new tattoo policy.
You can set a rule as far as dress code goes as an employer, but you must be able to both justify it and be seen to accommodate the law of the land, in this case the Equality Act 2010.
As always this will run until the first objection, the first dismissal for not following the diktat and the fall out from there.
What are your thoughts?
Are you an employer and want some advice on the similar matters?
Are you an employee in a similar situation?
We would love to hear from anyone in this situation with anything similar.