employer. Body piercing (other than ear lobes) is more prevalent in women than men and more common in younger age groups. 46% of women aged 16-24 have had a piercing (other than in their ear lobe). This suggests that most employers will have have to think about a dress code policy for piercings.
Whilst it’s acceptable in law for employers with employees with piercings to ban piercings, there are some things to think about.
Some employers may feel that visible, non-earlobe piercings are at odds with the image that they’re trying to project. Because if this they may ask employees with piercings to remove them whilst at work. It’s worth stopping and considering how many of your employees are actually having client contact if this is one of your reasons for objecting to piercings.
In today’s informal society, there’s actually a great deal of evidence to show that the most successful dress code is, by and large, to encourage your customer-facing employees to dress more or less like your customers. This puts your customers as well as your employees at ease, and will pay dividends down the road. If you let employees have a choice in what they wear, while still providing them with appropriate boundaries, it can help employees feel more at ease at work.
ACAS guidance on managing employees with piercings is that employers should give careful consideration as there should be a sound business reason for any policy on piercings. For example, it may be a valid health and safety reason such as keeping any dangling piercings away from machinery.
A company’s policy on piercing is most likely to be in its Dress Code. Dress Codes must apply to men and women equally and must avoid unlawful discrimination. Research shows us that more young people than older people have piercings. There is then
- a potential age discrimination challenge relating to piercings if the policy is not based on a valid business reason.
- the potential for religious discrimination claims. Nose piercings are one of the ways in which Hindu women signify their marital status.
Our advice is to take care. You may miss out on potentially talented recruits if you implement any kind of anti-piercing policy too strictly. Don’t artificially reduce your ability to select good people by arbitrarily excluding a very large group of them just because they express their personal style differently than is allowed for by too strict dress codes.
Need help with employees with piercings?
If you want further help and advice on what is the best way to develop an appropriate Dress Code Policy, give us a call on 01706 565332
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.