Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

New study reveals why tattoos should be valued in the workplace


Well into the 20th century, tattoos were seen as the preserve of criminals and ‘deviants’. But in modern Britain, more women than ever are choosing to get inked – and if businesses allow old-fashioned prejudices to affect their hiring decisions, they could be missing out on top employees.

That’s according to new research by academics at King’s College London, which found that visible tattoos can still be a barrier to getting hired in many professions.

But the team behind the research, produced in collaboration with Acas, has warned that negative attitudes towards tattoos are outdated – and said that businesses should relax their rules against ink in the office if they want to bag the best employees.


Tattoos are no longer seen as controversial by many young people.

Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK now have tattoos, according to a 2015 Yougov poll, and people under the age of 40 are significantly more likely to have at least one.

Jobs in the airline, accounting and emergency service industries were among those cited as being particularly tough on tattoos.

Read more: Meet the women fighting beauty ideals with body art

However, the research also identified some organisations where tattoos were often viewed positively – including bars and clubs, companies marketed towards younger people, and the creative industries.

Dr Andrew Timming, a management professor at St Andrews University who has researched the role of tattoos in hiring practices, predicted that attitudes will change as more and more people get tattoos.

“There’s a tidal wave of young people with tattoos these days and they’re not always going to be young,” he told the BBC. “Employers are going to have to accept that they're integral to the fabric of society and accept that they may potentially have a place at work.”

Read more: Empowering tattoos help rape survivors reclaim their bodies

Timmins added that tattoos should be seen as a sign of original thinking.

“Isn’t that what employers are looking for these days? Someone who doesn’t always toe the line?” he asked. “Isn’t Richard Branson talking about disruptive talent in the workplace?

“This is the kind of person who would fit that bill, I would think.”

50 beautiful coloured tattoos, from florals to geometric shapes



50 of the best watercolour tattoos on Instagram

crown tattoo constance hall instagram.JPG

The inspiring reason so many women are getting crown tattoos


These tattoos tell your smartphone how drunk you are

blackout tattoo.JPG

Blackout ink tattoos are the latest (and boldest) tattoo trend

tess holliday 2.jpg

The story behind my tattoos by plus size model Tess Holliday


50 impossibly delicate and tiny finger tattoos to inspire you


Sex toy reviewer is a job and it pays £28,000 (with unlimited holiday)

Get paid to do something you really love: you

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Why the quietest colleague in the office may have the last laugh

How to deal with feeling drowned out

by Amy Swales
14 Aug 2017

These are the 5 worst questions you can ask in a job interview

Don’t blow it.

by Moya Crockett
14 Aug 2017

Why using smiley faces in work emails could damage your reputation

Think a ':)' makes you seem friendlier? You’re wrong.

by Moya Crockett
14 Aug 2017

These are the 20 best companies for work-life balance in the UK

Feeling burnt out? Consider sending your CV here

by Moya Crockett
10 Aug 2017

Why this Google employee was fired for his report on women in tech

James Damore’s controversial memo has reignited the debate about diversity in tech

by Moya Crockett
08 Aug 2017

How to successfully launch a business in your spare time

By four women who made it work

by Sarah Biddlecombe
04 Aug 2017

Why you really need to start taking lunch breaks at work

A culture of presenteeism means we're glued to our desks and rarely go outside

by Anna Brech
27 Jul 2017

The one thing you should never include on your LinkedIn profile

Employers are less likely to hire someone who does this...

by Megan Murray
27 Jul 2017

How to spot if your boss has psychopathic tendencies

“The most obvious, immediate behaviour is that they lie”

by Anna Brech
27 Jul 2017