Executive fired for foot tattoo

by Janie Smith25 Jul 2014
Predictions suggest that about 20% of adults in Australia, the US and the UK have at least one tattoo, which makes it likely that a significant number of your employees are sporting ink somewhere on their bodies.

It appears that both the popularity and acceptance of body art is on the rise, yet one UK executive found herself out of a job because of a butterfly tattoo on her foot.

HR Grapevine reported that former Salisbury FM executive Jo Perkins had her contract terminated after she had trouble covering up her tattoo – which she said she already had when she began working for the company and before it instituted a “no tattoos on show” rule.

Perkins said she was not dealing with the public in her role and felt that covering the tattoo with a sock or a plaster would draw more attention to it.

“The only way to cover it would be to wear a sock. I’m a businesswoman and I wear smart dresses to work, so that would look stupid. I suggested covering it with a sticking plaster, but thought that would look unprofessional.”

The organisation claimed that Perkins didn’t comply with its professional image and made no effort to comply with its policy.

So how can you deal with tattoos in the workplace?

Athena Koelmeyer, managing director of Workplace Law, said that employers could implement a policy requiring tattoos to be covered as part of their usual dress code or uniform policy.

“The trick will be in the enforcement of the policy – for example, an employer who introduces a ‘no visible tattoo policy after having many tattooed employees for many years may have some difficulty in enforcing the policy in a short sleeve/singlet top environment.
“The only possible exception here would be in the case of cultural tattoos (e.g. the Maori facial tattoos), where it would be inappropriate for employers to not make allowances for religious or cultural dress/tattoo requirements.”

Have you ever dismissed anyone because of their tattoos? 


  • by Delia 25/07/2014 12:50:00 PM

    Hooley Dooley - a minefield here. If you were told before your employment that there was a policy for no visible tattoos, then it is your own fault, and you have to accept the consequences, or choose not to be employed in that particular business.

    But surely, if the policy was implemented after your employment began, and you already had a tattoo, then maybe there are grounds for unfair dismissal?

    By the sheer number of people wearing tattoo body art, and the fact that a tattoo does not affect work performance; I think there is also a case for discrimination.

  • by J Wagner 25/07/2014 12:59:11 PM

    Seriously? I imagine that a tattoo on her foot which had been there throughout the recruitment process presumably, would impede her ability to perform in the role?

  • by HC 28/07/2014 10:27:28 AM

    Tattoos are a choice, albeit one that is harder to change than purple hair or piercings. If you want to wear a megadeth t-shirt and shave half your head then you need to find a workplace that will accept that, same for tattoos.

    Personally I think it is a stupid rule, but then there are a lot of silly rules out there. Why do I have to wear a suit in the middle of summer?

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