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Tattoos at work – undercover or on display?

The continuing rise in the popularity of body art across all sectors of society could have consequences for house sales – and your HR department.

The Negotiator

Handshake tattooed hand

Tattoos are more popular than ever with a recent study by the Pew Research Center finding nearly one third of millennials have at least one tattoo. And that’s a number that’s likely to grow.

But can all the ink make a stink when it comes to dealing with client homebuyers and sellers?


Nicola Cockerill, senior associate at regional law firm Buckles Solicitors, specialises in employment law, and says tattoos have always been a divisive topic.

“Some view them as an expression of personal freedom, while others consider them unsightly or even offensive,” she says. “But where do those who have opted to ink, now fit into an employment market where first impressions can mean everything?”

Cockerill says the dismissal or disciplining of employees with tattoos may cause legal issues and adds that incorporating inclusivity into internal policies and procedures is important.

handshake tattoo knife

Gishan Abeyratne is a legal recruiter specialising in commercial property with BCL Legal and says, “All of my tattoos are confined to my arms and conveniently hidden by the standard business attire I wear on a daily basis.

“Luckily for me I work in an environment where this is not an issue but the question around what’s acceptable and what isn’t is something of a hot topic at the moment.”

Emma Hall, key relationship director at conveyancing panel manager Movin Legal, is a big fan of tattoos too but recognises they’re not everybody’s cup of tea.

She says, “You’ll be surprised how many people with tattoos are in the industry. Having tattoos is often a great conversation starter with clients both who have tattoos themselves and those that don’t.

I have come across discrimination but luckily only once and that was more about that person’s personal opinion.”

“You have to be sensible and respectful in certain environments which I always have been. But once people get to know you and work with you then that’s all you should be judged on.”

One high-profile London agent adds, “This is not something I want to get involved in – I can imagine the blowback! That said, all of our agents still wear shirt and tie in the office and look smart as it is always about showing professionalism.”


Gavin Lumb moved from selling property in London the to sell homes in Florida, USA, in 2010.

Now a realtor for United Realty Group he told The Neg, “In my 12 years working in the industry in Florida the number of real estate professionals with visible tattoos has grown at a fast pace.

“Agents are seen as independent contractors in the US so perhaps the lack of defined workplace guidelines have aided this rise? But in my experience the attitudes towards body art in the United States are far more open and liberal than in the UK.”

August 5, 2022

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