Are tattoos OK in the workplace?

Alistair Porter at Orwell Accountanst in Felixstowe

Alistair Porter at Orwell Accountanst in Felixstowe - Credit: Archant

To ink or not to ink, that is the question.

Nik Bayliss at Archant in Ipswich

Nik Bayliss at Archant in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Celebrities like footballer David Beckham and Suffolk’s own pop sensation Ed Sheeran have made tattoos trendy and as more people get themselves inked, so they have become commonplace.

According to one reports, one in three young adults sport some kind of body art and it’s not unusual now to see people with full arm sleeves and neck tattoos.

But while tattoos have been a common sight on building sites and in factories for many years, does the widespread use of body ink mean they are now regarded as acceptable in office-type workplaces?

Here, two Suffolk professionals with tattoos give their views.


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‘We are normal people..we just happen to have tattoos’

(Alistair Porter is a director at Orwell Accountants in Felixstowe)

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“I have sleeves on both arms. It started when I had my daughters’ names tattooed on each arm and then I added some bits and pieces and it turned them into sleeves.

“I’m aware there is a stigma with tattoos but I adopt a different philosophy: most of my clients are trades people – they don’t dress up, they come in to see me wearing work wear and some have tattoos themselves.

“I do have my tattoos on show and I’ve had a few people turn their nose up but for others it’s a good selling point – it signals to them that we are modern day accountants - not the kind you would find 20 years ago, the stereotypical boring accountants. It also shows we aren’t high end accountants who will charge clients £200 just to have a chat.

“We are normal people, we have families, we are there to save you money and we also just happen to have tattoos.

“At least 40% of the workforce will have a tattoo but only 5% have them on show. I’ve had jobs in the past where I’ve been asked respectively if I could wear long sleeves to cover my arms up - and that’s fine - but its seems strange that people can see me on social media looking one way and then from nine to five I have to pretend to be another type of person.”

‘There is a stigma attached to tattoos especially those in a prominent places’

(Nik Bayliss is senior digital sales consultant at Archant in Ipswich)

“I had a number of tattoos done when I was 18 - one on my leg and some tribal tattoos on my back - at that age I wasn’t really thinking about the long-term but as time went on I wanted something that looked better.

“So, I went to get the leg tattoo covered up and it’s turned into a tattoo on the whole of my lower right leg- there’s a Koi carp and a Buddha on there – and in total it took about 40 hours to do.

“Despite not really thinking about the future when I was young – I knew enough not to get a facial tattoo or tattoos on my hands, as I felt it would reduce my employment options.

“Things are changing in the workplace, things are bit more relaxed and attitudes to tattoos aren’t as rigid as they used to be but I still think there is a stigma attached to a tattoos especially those in a prominent places.

I wear shorts all the time outside of work and I as I walk about I know that a lot of people look at my leg.

That’s why I’m glad I don’t have a sleeve tattoo – as I can cover up when I’m at work, and when I’m visiting clients no one knows of the artwork I’m hiding.”

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