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Acas gives guidance on tattoos and piercings

Explicitly visible body tattoos and pierced eyebrows may fulfil dress code requirements if you work in a tattoo parlour but what about in the average office?

Tattoos and piercings

It's widely accepted that tattoos in general are far more popular today than they were 15 years ago.

About one in five British people are thought to have one, and they're most popular among 30 to 39-year-olds, with more than a third admitting to being inked, according to one survey.

As for piercings, one in ten people in the UK are thought to have a piercing somewhere other than their earlobe. The practice is evidently extremely popular among women aged 16 to 24, as almost a half (46 per cent) are alleged to have a non-earlobe piercing, or so one study says.

This suggests that managers in the average office may at some point have to think about dress code policy for tattoos and piercings.

Approaching a policy

Fortunately, Acas has recently published some guidance on the topic.

Some organisations may feel that tattoos and piercings are at odds with the ethos or image they are trying to project. They might as a result ask workers to remove piercings or cover tattoos while in the workplace.

But the guidance urges employers to 'carefully consider' the reason behind imposing a rule - as there should be 'sound business reasons' for it.

This could, for example, be a valid health and safety reason, such as keeping dangling piercings away from factory machinery.

Employers should also remember that dress codes must apply to men and women equally, although they may have different requirements and they must avoid unlawful discrimination.

Acas recommends consulting employees over proposed dress codes. Once an agreement has been reached, it should be written down in a formal policy and communicated to all staff 'so they understand what standards are expected from them'.

Acas publications and services

Acas has published guidance on Dress code, which goes over the key points, and covers religious dress in addition to tattoos and piercings.

Acas experts can come to your workplace and help 'audit your organisation's culture', while ensuring your Equality and diversity policy is legally compliant.

Practical Acas training provides the insight you need to stay on the right side of Discrimination law, and keep on top of issues related to Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.


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