Teachers and professors should have visible tattoos

Tattoos: what are employers allowed to prescribe?

Whether they look aesthetic or not can be discussed in individual cases, for example in the forum of a STANDARD video. In any case, one thing is clear: tattoos have become mainstream. Almost a quarter of Austrians have tattoos, according to a study published by the Imas Institute in 2016. It is not easy for them to find work or at work, and people affected complain that there is often discrimination.

What is the employer even allowed to prescribe? Which "Peckerl" are okay when?

Under labor law, tattoos fall under the category of outfit or clothing, "that is, under the external appearance", says Erwin Fuchs, independent lawyer (Northcote law). So far there have been relatively few judicial decisions regarding this area.

The fall pink hair band

A sensational case was that of Ali K., a bus driver for the Linzer Linien. K. was fired because he wore a pink hair band - despite parental part-time work and the associated better job security. "He turned against the employer's instructions that he was not allowed to wear a pink hairband while on duty. The employer argued that this could damage the company's reputation," says Fuchs.

In the third instance, the Supreme Court finally decided that the employer's intervention in the employee's personal rights required good reasons - which are not present here. "The reason was that the majority of the passengers also get on the bus if the bus driver wears a pink hair band."

"No more stigma"

The regulations for piercings and tattoos are similar. "An employer can only forbid it during working hours if, for example in the banking sector, a lot of customer contact is necessary and seriousness suffers." The definition of what can and cannot be considered serious is of course not easy. Fuchs: "Society is changing. Subtle tattoos are no longer a stigma."

"No problem at all" has anyone who wears subtle tattoos and can easily hide them. Even employees without customer contact do not have to worry, according to the labor law expert. "In the back office, it is completely irrelevant whether someone has a tattoo on their lower leg." The same applies to piercings: "A tongue, nose or lip piercing will be completely indifferent to a call center agent. It can be problematic for a bank employee." Then the employer could also give instructions to take out the body jewelry at work.

Possible reason for termination

For employees with a lot of customer contact, according to Fuchs, the following also applies: "If you have yourself tattooed or pierced on non-concealable parts of the body, such as the face, and if this contradicts the usual appearance in the industry, this can be a reason to justify termination." (Lisa Breit, February 19, 2018)