Virgin Atlantic repeals tattoo ban for cabin crew

Virgin Atlantic lifted its ban on cabin crew displaying their tattoos at work last week, becoming the first airline to do. Will we see more tattoos on show in the workplace of the future?

The airline's previous policy required employees to cover up tattoos with long-sleeved shirts, plasters or make up.

It still expects neck and face tattoos to be covered, although this policy is currently under review. Offensive tattoos will still expected to be covered up. 

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Estelle Hollingsworth, chief people officer at Virgin Atlantic, said that the move represents the company's commitment to allowing their workers to be themselves.

She said: “At Virgin Atlantic, we want everyone to be themselves and know that they belong. Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose.

"That's why, in line with our focus on inclusion and championing individuality, we're relaxing our tattoo restrictions for all our people. We're proud to be the airline that sees the world differently and allows our people to truly be themselves.”

Of a poll of over 3000 people on HR magazine's LinkedIn page, 86% said employees should be allowed to show tattoos and 14% said they should not. 

Commenting on the post, Maritsa Inglessis, a self employed HR consultant, said: "I have multiple tattoos and feel like this sentiment of having to cover up belongs in the 1800s. None of my tattoos affect my ability to lead a normal life and they certainly don't affect my ability to deliver my work. shouldn't productivity and results be the more important issue here?"

Lynsey Harris, head of people at KPMG in the Crown Dependencies, said: "I have five, three are visible. Hire the person for what they bring to your business not what body part they have." 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Employers are aware that tattoos have increased in popularity over recent years, and appreciate the value that they hold for their members of staff.

"There has been a move to less formal dress and appearance policies, and with the onset of remote working, this direction of travel is likely to continue.”

Sheila Attwood, managing editor at software company XpertHR, said the trend will likely continue as employers begin to soften their stance on tattoos in the workplace.

In an XpertHR survey, 62% of organisations said they allow tattoos without restriction.

Attwood added: "Of those that do restrict them, tattoos on the face, neck or hands, or featuring offensive messages or images are most likely to be disallowed. Meanwhile, some employers ask for all tattoos to be covered up when meeting clients."