Employment law on tattoos in the workplace

Home Articles ARTICLES Employment law on tattoos in the workplace
tattoo sleeves

Despite the rise in popularity of tattoos in recent years, many employers still consider them to be unacceptable in the workplace.

According to an Acas commissioned study in 2016, a large proportion of the 33 anonymously interviewed individuals, ranging from a senior manager in the emergency services to a regional director of an accounting firm, said that they would be hesitant in hiring applicants with visible tattoos.

This is potentially quite alarming for employees as according to a recent YouGov survey, 30% of UK adults aged 25-39 have tattoos and considering that body art has become increasingly more of a trend over the last few years, it is likely that this percentage will rise, especially within the younger generations of workers.

So, it is clear that some employers have negative opinions on body art, but what is the legal standpoint on tattoos in the workplace?

Apart from religious markings, body art is not considered a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, therefore employers are free to base their hiring decisions on this aspect alone.

Furthermore, in certain circumstances and where there are no contentious issues to consider (as well taking into account an employees’ length of service), employers could consider visible body art as a valid reason to dismiss existing employees, especially if they are frequently dealing with clients and customers.

Stephen Williams, Acas Head of Equality, states:

“Businesses are perfectly within their right to have rules around appearance at work but these rules should be based on the law where appropriate, and the needs of the business, not managers’ personal preferences.

Therefore, whilst it is understandable that some companies will want to encourage a professional image through their workforce, employers that adopt an unreasonably strict policy on visible tattoos and body art are at risk of losing out on a significant number of skilled workers.

While turning up to work or a job interview with an offensive facial tattoo would be rightfully frowned upon, and may hinder ones’ chances of retaining or getting a job. Perhaps taking a more lenient approach to visible tattoos and body art in general would be beneficial for businesses, and young aspiring professionals alike.

It also important to remember that when drafting or updating a dress code, that it is not discriminatory in terms of sex, age, disability, sexual orientation etc.


Social Media

Latest Posts

RIDDOR Landing page v x

What are RIDDOR Regulations & What are Employer’s Responsibilities for RIDDOR Reportable Incidents?

Firstly many people ask what RIDDOR means, RIDDOR stands for reporting injuries diseases, and dangerous occurrences. Accidents at work can happen, even with the best …

An Employer Guide to Disciplinary Action and Police Investigations

An Employer’s Guide to Disciplinary Action and Police Investigations

Without wishing to delve too heavily into the current (alleged) political shenanigans, there has been much discussion about the announcement of an investigation by the …

covid vaccine 800x296 1

Your Complete Guide to Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations

Earlier this month the government announced that The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 amendment had been passed by Parliament. The …

working from home

Can employers adjust sick pay for unvaccinated workers?

Can employers adjust sick pay for unvaccinated workers? There has been a lot of media coverage recently about various companies who are reducing sick pay …

working from home

Working from home: FAQs for employers

This week the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced the implementation of Plan B of its COVID-19 winter response due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases …