Tattoos, piercings and hair on your face

It could be fashion. It could be a loud statement of your individuality. It could be both. Fashion and work can collide when your boss isn’t happy with the way you look. But who’s right and what’s fair?

Employers can set ‘reasonable dress standards’ but that doesn’t take away their responsibility to treat you fairly.

According to the Equal Opportunity Commission, employers can set a reasonable standard of appearance that suits their industry as long as they don’t discriminate.

An employer is allowed to ask you to remove piercings, cover tattoos, be clean shaven or tie your hair back, so long as all dress codes:

  • be applied equally to men and women
  • relate to the job
  • allow workers to follow their cultural or religious beliefs
  • be fair to people with disabilities.

An employer must also follow health and safety or food hygiene regulations – this might involve dress codes.

Case study: Fairfax investigation “Not asking for it.”

Australian Curriculum Links:

Work Studies/Year 9/Career and life design: Gaining and keeping work
Identify the importance of rights and responsibilities for employers and workers.


See here Fairfax investigation into sexual harassment in retail stores

All the stories here are examples of sexual harassment and all the women involved have the right to report these incidents and have them addressed by the relevant authorities.

Learn more

Relevant Resources

Equality, Pay, Rights at work
The gender pay gap
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Rights at work, Safety
Occupational health and safety
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Pay, Rights at work
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