Tattoos could be your downfall

George Heron

George Heron

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Staff with tattoos could be risking their employment status if their artwork is too obvious in the workplace, according to experts at a Telford law firm.

George Heron, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, said research had shown that one in three young adults now had a tattoo.

“Colourful tattoos have been increasingly popular with people inspired by sport and TV personalities such as David Beckham, and this popularity continues to grow despite the negative perceptions which tattoos create in some situations.

“In particular, in the world of business, visible tattoos are frequently prohibited in company policies

“But it’s vital that companies have clear policies set out to cover dress codes and their employees’ appearance, and that staff are fully aware of the rules they have in place.”

Mr Heron said the topic had received so much attention that the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) had now published an updated research paper to help employers navigate through the minefield.

“Their research revealed how an employee of a radio station was sacked for having a tattoo over her foot and ankle which she made no effort to cover.

“Their company policy did not specifically state that staff should refrain from getting tattooed, but it did require them to be covered.

“As a result, there was nothing the employee could do about her dismissal – the company’s actions were not discriminatory and she had not been at the station long enough to attain protected employment status, so she could not make an unfair dismissal claim.”

Mr Heron said any dismissal brought a certain degree of risk for employers, and so it was essential to have the right policies and procedures in place.

“Employers need to make sure they have taken professional legal advice to ensure their policies are watertight and that their staff understand the implications of getting a tattoo that will be visible while they’re at work.

“If staff are working in roles where they don’t meet customers, suppliers or the general public, you may consider tattoos to be less of a concern, but the onus is on employers to set out a clear strategy and stick to it.”

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