Man with a rose tattoo on his hand

Tattoos in the Workplace in 2021

Tattoos are a great way to express yourself in a unique way. This type of art is becoming more popular in mass culture. As a result, tattoo-wearing employees have become more common in the workplace.

But you need to be aware that you must remember some things when you display tattoos at work. We will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of tattoos at work and how to comply with your employer’s policies.

Tattoos can have a negative perception, even though we think that tattoos are cool. Visible ink on the hands and face especially is not socially acceptable in all places and cultures. Throughout history, tattoos were seen as something criminal or unwanted. But interesting enough as fashion is ever-changing, there were spots in history where they were acceptable.

Tattoos were a popular trend in the early 1900s for example. Winston Churchill’s mother, who was famously tattooed with a snake around her wrist, followed the craze at the time. Sadly in just five years the trend died out and tattoos were again seen as something negative.

Are Tattoos Acceptable In Today’s Workplaces?

tattoo on a woman's wrist
Photo by Ravisankar S on Unsplash

All this changed in recent years and tattoos have become more widely acceptable with Gen Z especially. We do need to be aware that appearances still matter and that you need to think about the consequences of your tattoos. This again comes to the personal policy of the company and the type of job.

A fine dining restaurant may not allow its servers to have prominently displayed tattoos due to their close ties with customers. A factory worker may be exempted from the restrictions due to their limited face-to-face interaction with the customers.

Public contact is just one factor that a company must consider when deciding whether employees are allowed to have visible tattoos. Managers and owners may be more careful and won’t allow their employees to have tattoos at work. Some companies may allow them where you have a more casual setting. An IT firm could be okay with those, but a bank may not.

In the end you need to be careful when applying and thinking of where your career will go. Strategize and if you want to get a tattoo get it on a part of your body where it won’t be seen that much. As said, hands especially fingers and the face are super sketchy. The neck can also be problematic. Other parts can be covered with clothes and hidden which you will need to do.

Can You Sue An Employee for Discrimination Because Of a Tattoo

Legally a tattoo is not protected like some other things like disability or religion. Some recent studies have shown that having a tattoo should not close up that job offer for you. So not really, you can’t sue and expect to win.

Beware that all tattoos are not made equal, and managers know this. Employer decisions can be affected by the quality and type of a tattoo as well as its location. The study shows no discrimination if you have a good-looking tat on a good spot, where it’s not too jarring. So be aware of that before getting inked.

My Employee Has Issues With My Tattoos

woman with tattoos working
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If you come into this situation, you need to be aware that there are no laws against this type of discrimination in most places. So if you need to hide the tattoo or remove it, you gotta act smart. Makeup is always an option. Depending on what type of work you do and where the tattoo is, you may find tutorials online that can quickly teach you how to hide it with a good foundation or concealer.

Still, this may be tiring to do every day, and depending on the work and the makeup, it could be messy.

Your second bet would be to remove it as the removal process is easy but a tad bit expensive. Depending on the type of tattoo and the colors the tattoo can be easy or hard to remove. Darker colors are easier to remove. Especially if you have a small tattoo, this is not an issue. Big tattoos, on the other hand, are much harder to remove and takes longer.

The main method is laser removal, where the ink is heated in the skin and dissolved. You need to be aware that it won’t get completely removed; it will just get lighter. The tattoo removal aftercare phase is very important. You need to take care of that skin as the process can be risky if you have any skin problems.

What’s In The Future

It’s a good thing that the new generation of managers and entrepreneurs is younger and more modern. Both the public as well as companies are shifting their expectations and roles. Especially in recent times, as COVID has turned the world upside down, more and more hybrid work options are considered.

Even in the government sector, this is changing with public services like the Police, Fire Service, and other essential services tattoos. Even the US ARMY has loosened its policies on ink.

With more and more people being inked, acceptance is the only way to keep their employees working and happy.

It’s simpler to retain good employees than it is to find new staff. This is a business truth. Their hand is forced. The army relies on an intake of fit, young men, and currently, when you have almost half that has a tattoo or wants one, you need to rethink your policies.

So all of this shows promise of evolution and change, which is needed, not in just the tattoo department but in many others. Businesses need to be inclusive and understanding towards their employees and their customers.

With the changing base of customers and buyers, people don’t care about such trivial details as to whether the person behind the counter is tattooed or not.

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