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20th June 2014

Do You Include Tattoos in Your Dress Code Policy?

Love and HateIt seems that for many years tattoos were associated with sailors, bikers and thugs. Statistics now show that 1 in 10 people have a tattoo, so it is clear that attitudes towards tattoos are changing. People with tattoos work in various industries and hold entry-level positions as well as senior director positions. We are living in a culture where more individuals have tattoos than ever before. So how can employers deal with the sensitive issue of body art in the work place? Is it really an issue?

Whilst some employers may believe that tattoos are simply a self-expression of creativity and see no problem with them, other working environments may not be as welcoming towards this. I believe for care homes this could be problematic. Residents are often elderly individuals who may feel threated or uncomfortable to be cared by someone with tattoos of their favourite football team or body art that could be deemed as offensive.

Key points to consider

So, how can employers tackle this? Should this be included in your dress code policy? Or should it be managed internally? Here are some key points to consider:

  • Is the worker Service User facing?
  • Can the worker cover the tattoo up?
  • There is no legislation to protect employees with tattoos, but this should be managed fairly and consistently.
  • Some tattoos testify to religious or other beliefs (as do symbols such as wearing a Christian cross). You would be wise to allow exceptions in these circumstances.
  • Do the tattoos cause offence or cause provocation from colleagues or from Service Users?

Whilst not being a fan of tattoos, I have the belief that having one doesn’t make people a delinquent or thug! Some people choose to hang their art, some wear it. I don’t believe that simply having a visible tattoo in itself says anything about an individual that is relevant to his or her job.

But it would be prudent to be prepared for the day one arrives……

Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor

Topics: Human Resources

Sarah Riley

Senior Customer Care Executive

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