Fri | Nov 27, 2020

No to the inked! - Scores of qualified persons denied jobs because of visible tattoos

Published:Thursday | July 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Dancehall star Tommy Lee Sparta with his visible tattoos.

Several young Jamaicans in search of jobs are being rejected by potential employers because of bad decisions they made in the past. These include youngsters who have opted for large visible tattoos, others with vulgar and crude social-media posts, and some with criminal records.

Among the entities denying these youngsters jobs are the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), some established fast-food entities, and most of the island's established security companies.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Norman Heywood, who heads the National Police College of Jamaica, revealed that since the JCF promulgated a social-media policy in 2011 there have been cases where based on social-media postings persons have been deemed unsuitable to be a member of the force.

"Sometimes we do check, and if you are involved in nude postings or if you are involved in a social-media blitz in which you use certain language or pose with gangsters and so on, then that could impact you becoming a member of the organisation," said Heywood.

But an even more frequent reason for persons being rejected has been visible tattoos, with Heywood revealing that it is in the top 10 reasons why persons are not admitted into the JCF.

"We don't accept persons with visible tattoos, and that's a policy decision," said Heywood.

Visible tattoos are also to be blamed for a number of persons, especially females, being turned down during a recent recruitment drive by King Alarm security company.

"We had a large turnout but we had to turn back the majority because of what we required," Alltinton Hutton of King Alarm told The Sunday Gleaner.

"A lot of persons, especially females, came with several tattoos, which is against our company's policy. A lot of persons actually cried after we told them about this tattoo policy. They pretty much told us these were from silly mistakes back in high school and peer pressure, and now they regret having even placed a tattoo on their skin," added Hutton.




Commander George Overton, director at Guardsman Limited, said his company has also been impeded in its recruitment drive by visible tattoos, with one in every 10 persons being turned down for that reason.

"Visible tattoos are a problem, and this is not just one for Jamaica, it is a worldwide problem which has over the last five years spiked (locally) as tattoos have become more and more fashionable here in Jamaica," said Overton.

"Teenagers step out and do what they think is cute and fashionable and they don't realise that it has a lifetime impact on them. We try and ensure that we don't have officers with visible tattoos, especially loud, very outlandish tattoos.

"Those who may have on their hands or their arms, the uniform option certainly is a long sleeve shirt and not a short sleeve shirt," added Overton.

Another factor which has rendered a number of the nation's young men, in particular, unsuitable for most jobs is criminal records, with Hutton revealing that majority of the males who turn up with criminal records are below the age of 24.

Overton further explained that even if the security companies wanted to give some of these young men a chance they could not, based on regulations that govern the profession.

"You cannot get a licence from the Private Security Regulation Authority if you have a criminal record. So we don't waste our time vetting those persons and then submitting them for a licence because they are not going to get it," said Overton.

In the meantime, head of the Job Bank, Dr Leahcim Semaj, believes parenting is vital in preventing young persons from making decisions that are going to adversely affect them in the future.

"So when you decide to adorn yourself like that (with tattoos) you are taking a serious risk, especially with visible tattoos because if you are associated with any company you become part of their brand, and what you represent either adds to or detract from their brand," said Semaj.

"So if they (employers) have to choose between two people with all things being equal and one has a visible tattoo, then many times they are going to choose the one who doesn't, especially in areas having to do with security or public order. So it (visible tattoo) is not worth it. Think of the long-term consequences," added Semaj.