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Are you worried about how your tattoo will affect your job success?  Our societies are changing as rapidly as the world around us. Attitudes, beliefs and values are very different today compared to 100 years ago. We have a lot more freedom to choose the lifestyle we prefer.  We no longer need to conform to dated traditions and norms.

As an interview coach, I’m asked whether tattoos will be a problem when looking for a job.

There are mixed views and opinions about tattoos.  And this is understandable considering our demographics.  For the first time in modern history, we are working alongside 5 generations. It often comes down to personal preference rather than company policy or law.

  • iGen aka Generation Z: born 1996 and after
  • Millennials aka Generation Y: born 1977 to 1995
  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists: born 1945 and before

However, organisations will be narrowing down their talent pool if they hold on to dated views.


Having a tattoo is not protected under Employment Law.  It isn’t one of the Protected Characteristics.  Businesses have the right to make decisions about appearances and dress codes. These decisions should be based on company policy and comply with the law.

Despite the fact tattoos have been around for decades they are particularly on trend with the millennial generation. It’s a form of expression, identity and individuality. If companies shy away from hiring individuals just because they have a tattoo then they are missing out on potential talent for their businesses. It could even be a form of indirect age discrimination given that a third of young people now have a tattoo. And 1.5 million people in Britain get a tattoo every year.

If you have a tattoo that expresses a controversial opinion or is perceived as violent or discriminatory then you are unlikely to be hired into certain organisations. It will also increase the risk of being rejected if you have visible tattoos on your face, neck or hands. My regular followers will know I talk about the importance of being aligned with the company’s values, ethos and operating principles – Company Culture.

Considering a career in the Police?

If you are considering joining the police force here’s the viewpoint of the Met Police and Kent Police.

The Met Police: The Met Police are very clear on their tolerance of tattoos and will not accept applications from candidates with face, neck or hand tattoos.

“Anyone who has a tattoo which could be offensive to any religion or belief, or is in any way discriminatory, violent or intimidating, will not be accepted. Tattoos on the face, visible above a collar line or on the hands are not acceptable for any role within the Met.”

Kent Police: Kent Police have a clear policy too however they make decisions on a case-by-case basis. As with the Met Police, there is no tolerance of tattoos that are discriminatory or violate their ethics and standards of professional behaviour. They are willing to review any tattoos on the face, neck or hands.

“Visible tattoos are deemed unacceptable if they could reasonably be interpreted as discriminatory or offensive and /or indicate attitudes or views which are inconsistent with the CoP Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behaviour and such tattoos would be a bar to joining Kent Police”

Businesses need to reflect communities

A good company will understand, appreciate and commit to building a diverse workforce. That is a workforce that reflects their clients and the wider community.

Companies that are good at diversity and inclusion will focus on the breath of what individuals can bring to the organisation.

  • Skills (hard and soft)
  • Experiences
  • Knowledge
  • Technical and behavioural competencies
  • Beliefs, values, opinions and views
  • Backgrounds (economic and social etc.)

They also want to build businesses that reflect their clients and communities.

ACAS believe companies need to change their attitudes about tattoos and relax their dress codes.

“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,” Stephen Williams, Acas Head of Equality.

Final Viewpoint 

Be aware that there are some strong opinions. Everyone has the right to have personal opinions and preferences. The risk is when we allow our personal preferences to make business decisions that violate the law.  There is also a risk of missing out on talented individuals.

Research the jobs market before deciding to get a tattoo.  It’s worth giving your future career options serious consideration. It might help you think about where and what you have permanently inked on your skin.

Visit this article by the Independent: Tattoo Discrimination could see companies missing out on young talent.

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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