Cleo displays tattoos on her neck during the ninth London Tattoo Convention in London September 27, 2013
Cleo displays tattoos on her neck during the ninth London Tattoo Convention in London September 27, 2013 Reuters

Law firm Moore Blatch has issued a stark warning, ahead of the London Tattoo Convention, by reiterating that both current employees and students who may be looking for a job may have their prospects affected if they get inked.

The group said that although one in five Britons now has a tattoo, candidates applying for positions such as cabin crew staff, nurses, police officers, and so on, could have their job applications disqualified or refused, if they admitted to having a tattoo.

"Tattoos used to be confined to bikers, sailors or artistic individuals seeking to express themselves, but today, tattoos are commonplace and attitudes towards them are changing," said Katherine Maxwell, partner and head of employment law at Moore Blatch Solicitors.

"Saying that, we would advise anyone thinking of getting a tattoo to consider carefully how this may affect their current or future job prospects as the law is still ambiguous.

"We would also advise businesses who are considering introducing a new policy which prohibits tattoos to be careful when drawing up their code of conduct. Employers should take into account existing employees with tattoos and also think about whether the tattoo would affect the job, and, if yes, in what way."

Under UK law employers are currently permitted to refuse to hire someone because they have a tattoo, can ask employees to cover up any visible tattoos whilst at work, and dismiss an employee for getting a tattoo.

However, Moore Blatch adds that there are exceptions and the law is not always completely clear.

"In cases where the tattoos may have religious significance, for example, employees could find they have a case for being discriminated against by reason of their religion or belief (section 10 Equality Act 2010)," said the law firm.

"Also, elsewhere, legislation states that an employee with at least two years continuous service has the right not to be dismissed unfairly, should they get a tattoo against their employer's code of conduct."