Workplace dress code policy can address rules for tattoos

Maintaining professionalism in the workplace is important, but tattoos don’t necessarily take away from that. As tattoos gain popularity across society, acceptance in the workplace is changing.

An article from USA Today, “Workplace Tattoo Taboos Fading,” states that there are three underlying concerns employers have with hiring people with body art:

  • the belief that an employee will not be taken seriously by tradition-minded clients,
  • the concern that the organization’s brand or image might be compromised by outlandish tattoos, and
  • the concern that one person’s body art could be perceived as offensive or hostile to a co-worker or customer.

When discussing body art in the workplace, keep in mind that you are hiring someone based on education, experience and skill. You are hiring this person because they are qualified for the job, not for their appearance.

Some important considerations are: Will visible tattoos affect the work environment? Do our employees see any clients or customers during the work day when appearance may play a part in customer service? Will tattoos be distracting in the workplace or disrupt the work flow?

In some cases, applicants may hide body art that may prevent them from getting a position and then reveal the tattoo or piercing once on the job. You may be able to avoid an issue by taking the opportunity during the interview to discuss company policies and dress code standards that are important if you offer a candidate a position. It may even be significant to share these company standards in the job posting itself. Sharing these policies as early as the job posting could save the company time and weed out applicants that don’t meet your dress code standards.

If it is imperative to your company that tattoos and piercings cannot be visible, you should review your employee handbook to ensure that policies are in place to explain dress code and appearance while on the job. It is important to be specific in the policy if you don’t allow visible body art.

To discuss employee handbook policies and other guidelines, please contact your Human Resources professional at BCN Services 800-891-9911.


Hayley Diehlman, HR Administrator