Can I Tell an Employee to Cover Their Tattoo?

by Mammoth Team on October 5, 2015

Q: An employee recently got a tattoo on her arm. Can I require her to wear long sleeves at work to cover it?

A: We recommend following your written dress code policy on this matter. If your dress code policy does not address covering visible tattoos, or do so in a way you like, consider revising it. You may decide to prohibit visible tattoos entirely or you may simply prohibit tattoos that are offensive, distracting, inappropriate, or over a certain size. The policy could even be something general like “Tattoos must be appropriate and in keeping with a professional image.”

Tattoo policies usually depend on the culture of the workplace. Some employers avoid restrictive dress codes because they can negatively affect morale and may drive away impressive job candidates. Other employers prefer a strict dress code to maintain a certain company image.

Whatever you decide, your policy and practice must allow for religious accommodations. Some religions do not permit the covering of tattoos or other religious items, and you should be prepared to make exceptions.

When you’ve decided on a policy, be sure to communicate your reasons to employees and apply the policy consistently.

 Tattoos, Piercings, and Man Buns – Build a Dress Code That’s Right for Your Organization

Topics: Culture, Best Practices

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