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Here are the 10 wrong reasons tattoos and piercings in the workplace are covered, and an analytical look at some objections.


Businesses often ask, "Should tattoos be allowed in the workplace." Professionalism is crucial, but treating a job professionally and treating people with professionalism is far more important than wearing the correct attire. A cotton blend doesn't turn in paperwork on time, or organize effectively and neither does a tattoo. It's the person who does the job, not the tattoo, piercing or suit. The most common reason businesses lose current clients is poor customer service. Growth and productivity is directly affected by the character and qualifications of the individual. You wouldn't doubt the professionalism of Google, Quicken Loans, and Amazon, but they have a business casual dress code. Dozens of Fortune 500 companies have employees coming to work in casual attire. Even if employee's have a business professional attire dress code, they can still have visible piercings and visible tattoos in the workplace, none of which change their qualifications or character.

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This is a natural follow-up to the previous thought on visible piercings and visible tattoos in the workplace. According to FOX News, 97% of American adult consumers wouldn't change current product shopping habits if employees had visible tattoos and piercings. As long as consumers felt they received the same quality and pricing they didn't care about staff covering piercings or covering tattoos for work. In reality, 61% of American adults have a tattoo or piercing, therefore patrons will show preference to companies that allow staff the freedom to have piercings and visible tattoos in the workplace. For additional thoughts see point 4, 6, and 8.


The argument that covering tattoos for work is a necessary health precaution in food service has no medical validity for healed tattoos. However, during the healing process, a tattoo is no different from any other abrasion or cut on the skin and should be bandaged to the same degree an abrasion of a similar level would be bandaged. A rule of thumb for piercings is if earrings are removed for health precautions then piercings should be removed as well. Some employers state employees with piercings play with their body jewelry at work and thus shouldn't have body jewelry in during work for health safety. However, that's why staff wear plastic gloves when preparing food. Gloves protect against all these contamination factors, including body jewelry, and federal law requires employees to wash hands after touching or handling contaminants. The main thing is tattoos and piercings should be held to the same standards as other similar contaminants. If piercings are removed because of health concerns, but earrings, rings, bracelets, hair clips, necklaces are allowed, it creates a double standard. Covering tattoos for work, but not other abrasions, cuts and scrapes, creates a double standard.


Tattoos and piercings that are still in the healing process should be held to the same standards as other similar contaminants. Covering healed tattoos, or banning body jewelry with no risk of falling out do not provide additional health safety. 

To see all government regulations regarding health and hygiene around food, click here.

Point 2
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Allowing tattoos and piercings at work doesn't mean employers have to allow vulgar, obscene, or racy tattoos or piercings. Companies around the world allow staff to have tattoos and piercings, but won't allow offensive body jewelry or offensive tattoos in the workplace in their business professional attire. Think about it, if you wouldn't let an employee come to work with a certain expression or design on their shirt, then it's a logical conclusion you wouldn't allow them to display it in art form on their body either. However, these offensive tattoos are rare and offensive body jewelry is even more rare. Additionally, we live in a society where everything seems to offend someone somewhere. Politics and religion are among the most "offensive" topics, yet the right to freedom of expression, thought, political affiliation, and religious practices should be protected. Freedom of expression and the open marketplace of ideas is paramount to the illusion of peace gained from the impossible task of appeasing everyone everywhere.

Point 4
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Facebook, surfing the web, and Netflix are distracting, but you'll never find anyone who lost an entire afternoon of productivity because they saw a tattoo or piercing earlier. In America, 50% of employees waste 1-5 hours at work being distracted on surfing the internet and social media. Tattoos and piercings have never been attributed as a factor to workplace distraction in any case study or poll. Tattoos and piercings do not decrease productivity or company growth by being distracting. Visit here for an article on distracting "unnatural" or colored hair in the workplace.


Picture for a moment a person with tattoos and piercings. It can be anyone, but preferably someone you know. You'd never wear what they're wearing, and you'd never walk out of the house with the tattoos and piercings they have. You wouldn't feel comfortable, you might not feel beautiful, and you would feel odd around your friends or family. Well, that same person would potentially feel the exact same way if they looked the way you did and wore the things you did. The tattoo art is often no different than the art you beautify your home with. Body jewelry is worn for the same purposes you would wear all of your other jewelry: beautification. Resumes list education, experience, skills, references and awards ... not weight, hair color and number of likes on recent Facebook selfies. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ask yourself if the hiring process should be a beauty contest or based on talent and qualifications.

Point 6
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61% of American adults currently have tattoos or piercings. The myth that people with tattoos and piercings are automatically less qualified, irresponsible, delinquents, or not prompt is simply inaccurate. We could find 1,000's of tattooed and pierced workers that fit a old stereotype, and we could also find 1,000's of tattooed and pierced workers that are the opposite of old stereotypes. As an employer, in today's culture, it's difficult to find prompt hard-working employees that can keep the employer's best interests in mind and put other's first and don't waste their work day on texting and social media. When you shrink your hiring pool on superficial reasons instead of qualifications, education, skills, and experience you only hurt yourself. Employers shouldn't hire people with tattoos and piercings, they should hire the most qualified person for the job, and if that person happens to have tattoos and piercings then hire them. If you don't hire the most qualified individual for the job your competition will. See point 2 and read more benefits for hiring based on qualifications.

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Horns, implants, tongue splitting and other extreme modifications are considered body 

modifications. These are completely different from tattoos and piercings, and fall under body modifications in the workplace. Allowing tattoos and piercings does not mean you allow body modifications. Three points should be made. First, it is a fine line to walk. Body modifications are any alteration done to the human body, and breast implants, liposuction, hair transplants, and plastic surgery are all body modifications. Deciding what body modifications in the workplace are beautiful can be a slippery slope. Secondly, there are literally hundreds of body modifications, and not all modifications are equal. For example, there's a huge gap between permanent make up and horn implants, both of which are body modifications. 


Thirdly, the purpose of tattoos and piercings versus extreme body modifications is often different. 86% of adults with tattoos stated their tattoos had to do with their family, memories or values, while a majority of the rest said their tattoos were for beautification purposes. Body jewelry in India, Great Britain or any other country is worn for the same reason: beautification purposes. However, extreme body modifications like horn implants, blackened eyeballs, sharpened teeth and so on are often associated with universal animal traits and threatening personas. The purpose is often frightful in contrast to the purpose being for beautification. In other words, tattoos, henna and piercings can't be found in the animal kingdom, but split tongues or sharpened teeth can be. There are universally frightful visual attributes. Haunted houses and scary movies are terrifying to individuals regardless of culture or geographic location. A person who resembles a lizard or demon could equally frighten a house wife in the Netherlands or tribal native in Uganda. This is why frightful body modifications are different from tattoos and piercings.

Point 8
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We discussed this in point 4. Additionally, it's a similar concern that once tattoos and piercings are allowed it will open "Pandora's Box." While inappropriate tattoos and piercings are rare, they can be regulated for their inappropriate message. In other words, you can hire staff based on merit and allow piercings and tattoos, while still not allowing inappropriate tattoos, just like you would restrict an inappropriate message on an employee's shirt or necklace.


The last of the 10 wrong reasons tattoos and piercings in the workplace are covered is because some jobs already have a business professional attire dress code automatically covering exposed skin and thus covering tattoos for work. We spoke recently with a law firm that was concerned and stated, "Our staff has just always worn suits." It's completely fine! You can still dress to impress, while having tattoos and piercings. If everyone in the business wears specific business professional attire there should be no exceptions made. However, in the case of the Cheesecake Factory there was a business professional attire dress code, but staff with tattoos and piercings had additional dress code requirements to cover up. They have since allowed staff to have visible piercings and visible tattoos in the workplace if it is outside of the clothed area of the current dress code. The principle is that employees should follow dress code requirements, but businesses shouldn't have additional dress code requirements for staff with tattoos and piercings. If there are selective dress code requirements it will hurt company employee relations and it's unnecessary as proved in the above points. To the degree that a company applies an even standard to staff with and without tattoos and piercings, a company will maintain better employee morale. See more info on the positive benefits of allowing staff to have tattoos and piercings.

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