Tattoos and piercings – are your policies covered?

11th September 2014

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has issued new guidance on dress code and appearance in the work place, with specific guidance on tattoos.

Martin de Ridder, lawyer in the dispute resolution and employment team at Ansons Solicitors, highlights the importance of these new guidelines on tattoos and why employers should be aware of the changes.

ACAS issues guidance notes from time to time on a variety of issues that, while not representing the law, are often followed by employment tribunals when assessing the reasonableness of an employer’s actions.

Of particular interest, is the new guidelines on tattoos. In the UK they are increasingly popular, with one in five adults now having one. This includes many well-known people from David Beckham to Robbie Williams and even the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron.

ACAS guidance is used as points for consideration rather than as a clear set of rules, but is nevertheless helpful to employers who feel that an employee’s tattoos are causing a problem.

The new guidance states:

“Employers may wish to promote a certain image through their workers which they believe reflects the ethos of their organisations. Sometimes this can mean that they ask workers to remove piercings or cover tattoos while at work. Employers may believe they have a reasonable business reason for this especially when employees are dealing with customers. However, employers should carefully consider the reason behind the rule as they should have sound business reasons for requiring these dress codes. If an employer does decide to adopt a dress code or appearance code it should be written down in a policy, which should be communicated to all staff so they understand what standards are expected from them.”

It is important for employer’s to stay on top of these new guidelines and check policies and procedures accordingly. Updating them will help avoid any disputes in the future.

Ansons Solicitors team of specialist employment lawyers, based in Cannock and Lichfield, can provide you with assistance in updating your policies or if you wish to address an issue with a particular employee.

For further information, please contact Martin de Ridder in the dispute resolution and employment team, on 01543 431 186 or email