Tattoos in the Workplace

So, you have an employee that turns up with a new tattoo… what can you do about it?

It was recently reported that 17% of people have a tattoo. To some, they are attractive and wonderful body art. To others, they are indicative of being lower class, heavy drinking and poor breeding. Many employers don’t like employees to have them as they don’t give off the right corporate image.

For the record, I have no ink, but don’t really care if others do. However, some employers have a strict no ink policy. What does the law say?

Well, the starting point is that if the tattoo was ‘obtained’ to further a religion or belief, or because the wearer did so because of their race, they are likely to have legal protection.

For the many who have a tattoo for other reasons, there is far less protection. If an employer has a strict ‘no ink’ policy then wearers can PROBABLY be fairly dismissed. The employer would need to identify a fair reason for dismissal as per section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. In practice this would likely be SOSR (some other substantial reason). The employer would also need to follow a fair process to dismiss, but the decision to dismiss is likely to be unimpeachable.

For more information
To discuss this or for further information, please get in touch with Andrew Buckley on 01234 270600.

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