Can Teachers in the UK have Tattoos?

Tattoos, or body art, as many prefer to call them, are a controversial subject for many people. It is now not uncommon to see tattoos in the boardrooms of companies in almost every industry. With that being said, can teachers in the UK have tattoos?

Can Teachers in the UK have Tattoos?

Yes, qualified teachers in the UK can have tattoos. Nothing in the UK law prohibits teachers from having tattoos. Meaning there is no legal prohibition, and the law gives school leadership wide latitude in how they deal with the issue of tattoos. 

But based on existing employment law and the Equality Act, schools are afforded wide latitude in how they set policies on teachers and tattoos. School leaders are well within their rights to consider tattoos during the recruitment and hiring process.

What is the current law in the UK?

In 2010, the UK enacted the Equality Act to prevent workplace discrimination. The Equality Act defines many behaviors prohibited to employers. 

School leaders have the authority to make decisions about the acceptability of visible tattoos. The culture and society in which the school exists can influence the decisions policymakers reach about the tattoo issue.

The Equality Act is specific in its definition of a Protected Characteristic. Until the courts rule, the question of religious tattoos as a protected characteristic will remain open.

Does the UK law protect teachers with tattoos?

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are not allowed to discriminate against staff based on certain protected characteristics. This includes age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Tattoos would not be considered a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010. However, some tattoos can have a religious or cultural meaning. Banning tattoos could constitute discrimination on grounds of race, religion, or belief.

In summary, the UK law deos protects teachers from discrimination when it comes to tattoos. This means that if a teacher has a tattoo, they can still teach in the UK. 

However, the law does not protect teachers with visible tattoos from the public as well as their employers or institutions. Teachers with visible tattoos may be required to cover them up upon the discretion of the school’s policy.

What are the potential consequences for a teacher with tattoos?

For those teachers who have tattoos, the possible consequences can vary depending on the situation. If a teacher has tattoos that are visible, it can cause problems in their career. 

For example, if a teacher has tattoos on their arms or neck, it could be seen as unprofessional for a school to hire them because tattoos are not seen as professional. 

If a teacher has tattoos that are not visible, like their hands or feet, it will not cause any problems in their career.

What do general principles of human rights law suggest?

For years, teachers have refrained from having tattoos or kept them covered during work hours. In reality, tattooing has been practiced since Neolithic times as spiritual and religious activity. 

Tattoos are now commonplace, with many celebrities, such as David Beckham, openly sporting extravagant designs. For some, it may be a case of snobbery and an assumption that tattoos signify a person of a lower class and culture.

Human rights law is a set of principles which help to protect people from mistreatment and discrimination. Many human rights laws were created as a way to protect the most vulnerable in society, such as children, women, and people with disabilities. 

Tattoos are considered a form of self-expression, and are protected under human rights law. The United Nations has issued an official recommendation that states tattooing should be seen as a form of self-expression, and that individuals should be allowed to express themselves without interference.

Are teachers with tattoos at risk of being dismissed?

There is no standard guideline for what a teacher should or should not have tattooed on their body. However, some schools may have a policy that says teachers are not allowed to have tattoos in order to avoid the school’s liability. 

This is a decision that each school needs to make on their own. If a teacher has an explicit tattoo that is not appropriate for a school setting, they will likely be asked to cover it. 

School leaders are allowed to make hiring decisions based on the presence of visible tattoos. In a recent Teacher Tapp survey, 18% of primary school teachers admitted to having tattoos. 

Why are some people against teachers with tattoos

Tattoos are a way for people to express themselves, a way to show what is important to them. It’s a way for them to be who they are. People with tattoos on their bodies have proven that they are not afraid of what other people think of them and that they are not ashamed of their bodies. 

But some people may see tattoos as a sign of rebellion and an act of defiance. They may see it as a sign that someone is not trying to be anyone else but themselves. Some have a negative opinion of teachers with tattoos. 

People have been against teachers with tattoos for many years, but they have no real basis for their objections. Teachers with tattoos are not any more likely to be unprofessional or act inappropriately than those without tattoos. 

People may be against teachers with tattoos because they feel that teachers should be role models for children and shouldn’t have tattoos. Some people feel that teachers should be seen as perfect and in order to be a role models, teachers should not have tattoos.

They believe that tattoos are a bad reflection of the profession, and they also think that tattoos are not professional. Some people also believe that tattoos can be a sign of rebellion or that they are a sign of disrespect. 

Some people also think that tattoos are a sign of low self-esteem. There are many reasons why some people are against teachers having tattoos.


The Equality Act defines many behaviors prohibited by employers. Schools continue to enjoy considerable leeway in how they deal with employees during the recruitment period and on the job. Surveys of schools in the UK find a diversity of policies concerning teachers and tattoos. Many argue schools should be as concerned with preparing students for the real world as they are with imparting technical and fundamental skills. Many schools in the UK face challenges in finding teachers with the proper qualifications to fill classroom roles. Tattoos that remain culturally sensitive or politically intolerant will continue to be an issue.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can Teachers in the UK have Tattoos?

What are the teacher Standards UK?

The teacher standards UK are a set of professional standards that apply to teachers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Teachers are required to meet these standards in order to gain employment as a teacher in these countries. These standards are the result of much research and consultation and they have been designed to help teachers develop their skills and knowledge. The standards cover areas such as classroom management, teaching, assessment, and professional development.

Why are tattoos popular?

There are many reasons why tattoos are popular, but the main reason is that they are a permanent way to express yourself:  feelings, memories, and ideas. Tattoos can be drawn on your skin in any shape, size, or color and they are a way to express your personality. They can also be used as a way to make a fashion statement. Tattoos have been popularized in the last century and are now seen on a variety of people, from celebrities to the everyday person.

Can teachers have tattoos in the United States?

Some schools allow teaching staff or school leaders to have tattoos, as long as they are not visible. This is where acceptable discrimination against tattoos comes in, as the type of tattoo can significantly impact if it is allowed in the classroom.


Kang, M., & Jones, K. (2007). Why do people get tattoos?. Contexts, 6(1), 42-47.

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What Is a Tattoo and What Story Does It Tell? Retrieved from