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Policy on tattoos and piercings?

by on
in The HR Specialist Forum

Question: "After we hired someone, we found out that she had a snake tattoo down her arm. Plus, she's now wearing a tongue ring which she did not have in when we interviewed her. My question is: Can we ask her to remove the tongue piercing during working hours and wear a long sleeve blouse or sweater to cover the tattoo while she is at work?" -- Faye, PA



Yes. In addition, a review and update of company policy might be warranted. Including a sentence such as "visible body piercings or tattoos are not acceptable office attire" would address both piercings and tattoos.

I would first have to ask, what is your line of business?
If your new hire is working directly with the public, and you feel these would interfere with your sales, yes, you could ask her to cover up and remove the tongue ring.
If however, she is working in a tatoo parlor, a warehouse or factory environment, what would be the harm. Youth today, think we are old fashioned and behind the times with our conservative feelings regarding tatoos or body piercings. I personally find them revolting, but wouldn't walk away from a purchase because of them.

While I agree that company policy should be reviewed, I'd be a bit more specific in ban on piercings and tattoos. Case in point, you can't eliminate visible "body" piercings when more than 80% of women have their ears pierced. Likewise with tatoos, there are some, maybe not as much as 80%, women who have permanent eyebrows tatood on. The conflict arises when these things become offensive.

You need a company policy that addresses the issue across your workforce. Making sure that the policy is reasonable, and addresses a business purpose or concern. That allows you to manage the issue, not react to an issue. Careful on stepping on moral or political issues, but focus on business issues.

We are in a consertive business in property management and make sure during interviews that we advise them of our constant contact with our customers and our very conservative dress code of business level or uniforms. If any male shows with earing, we make them aware of it be specifically in our guidelines as being offensive to our customers, the same goes tat's must be covered, and we don't allow smoking or strong cologne/perfume since some customers are bothered. We are service first and our customers can set our guideliness. We make it well known before hire and catch breaks in policy the first day.

Yes - if the employee is working with the public.
It should be a company policy and/or included in the final interview process stating all tattoos be covered and tongue rings will need to be removed during working hours.
Most candidates cover the tattoos and removed the tongue rings for the interview.

A comment was posted about tattoos and piercing I noticed they said that they were a conservative business in property management, and that they didint let there employees smoke or wear strong cologne/perfume since some customers were bothered. How could you say that if you dont receive a complaint from that specific customer I dont think you somone wouldnt want you to manage their property because you had on nice cologne really think you need to check out your employee policy handbook to CYA.

Yes! Absolutely. It is inappropriate to diplay body piercings and tatoos in an office setting.

Yes, But it does depend on your type of business. No piercings in the office setting or tattoos, but other places have become more lenient. More women are getting lips and brows and eyeliner tattooed so you have to be careful with wording in your policy.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Cipriano November 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Yes you can.. I am in the real estate business ( property mgt) We own over 6,000 units country wide . And in our guidelines it is written ” no” tats or piercings.. Our HR people durning interview explain the culture and environment of our business..


Chenoa Block April 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I realize this post went dead a long time ago but I thought I would add my two cents just in case someone else stumbled upon it like I did. I am a heavily tattooed woman in the workforce and I believe it is completely fair for you to ask your employees to cover their tattoos in a professional setting. I looked long and hard to ensure I bought oxford shirts and slacks that did not reveal my tattoos to the customer. Furthermore, I am completely honest with hiring employers and do not try and hide my tattoos from them. I feel that I am skilled enough that it should not be a consideration during hiring but at the same time understand that when I got them I was taking a risk where employment is concerned. I hope this helps future employees make the decision. I would rather be asked to cover my tattoos that to be fired unfairly.


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