A Question

So this is going to be a weird post for my blog, but bear with me…

I need help, but not just me; my workplace needs input. I work in the healthcare industry, but not the typical private doctors’ office or hospital. I work for the health district which serves the community more as a whole in terms of health standards. With that being said, we do have nurses and nurse practitioners, as well as environmental health specialists, and admin personnel. 

The topic of controversy that has plagued my particular office is visible tattoos and facial piercings in the workplace. There is a very obvious generation gap between employees; the older generation feel that neither tattoos or facial piercings are professional, thus they need to be either covered up or removed during office hours, where as the younger generation believe that as long as said tattoos and/or facial piercings are not inhibiting an employee’s ability and/or quality of work, then they should be allowed to be displayed.

This discussion began because of a septum piercing one of our front desk staff members had gotten one weekend. This staff member no longer works here, but she sure sparked an intense debate as to what our image policy should say. Before, it was stated that one facial piercing is permitted. This was because a different employee had a nose stud which was fine. Our director at the time found out about the septum piercing and told the employee to remove it; that it wasn’t company policy, which technically, it was; she just personally, did not find that piercing attractive.

We also have a few employees with tattoos on their arms/wrists. Would you prefer to have a nurse conduct an examination on you with bandages and tape up and down his/her arms or would you just want to have the tattoos visible? Can a someone still be seen as ‘professional’ with tattoos and/or piercings?

One of the biggest arguments supporting a lax policy for tattoos and piercings is this: the generation that is hitting the workforce is younger and do not have such strict standards when it comes to such body modification practices as the old generation had/has. If we get an applicant for an open position that has visible tattoos and/or facial piercings, are we not going to hire them based on such qualities? Granted, I know that it would be illegal to make a decision based on such an issue; just play along.

We have been discussing this topic for the past 5 months and we have not made any headway, so I wanted to turn to this wonderful community for suggestions/policies they may have/opinions/anything that could contribute to this discussion. If you have a link of a policy that addresses this issue, feel free to post below. Also, if you wish to share/re-blog this post, that’s cool too. I want to start a conversation and welcome any and all input.

… And let me just state: I do not have facial piercings or tattoos, so this does not affect me in the slightest. But I should also state that I am part of the younger generation and believe that tats and piercings should be allowed. 🙂

36 thoughts on “A Question

    • If the policy were rewritten to include tattoos, it would definitely be stated that non-offensive tattoos would be permitted. With piercings, I understand why people would not find them appropriate, but a little nose stud isn’t terribly offensive and that’s pretty much what we’re talking about. I think the policy should specifically state ‘a single nose stud (no hoop) is permitted’ or something along those lines. Thanks for the input! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think it’s very short sighted that tattoos etc should be a ‘thing’ they have absolutely no effect on a persons ability to do their job ( assuming all relevant hygiene rules are followed) I love tattoos , I have a couple – one sometime peaks out but otherwise covered. I know lots of people at my work with wrists and full sleeves etc. They are sometimes covered and sometimes not. I think strict dress codes etc are sometimes appropriate but we are individuals and we should embrace that wherever possible!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the hardest part for our office is we have some people who deal with patients/customers everyday, but we also have a large number of people (like myself) who work in the back with little to no contact with people other than coworkers. It’s hard to have a policy that works for everyone. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Times do change, I’m afraid that in the health care industry you will have to care for the elderly who may view piercings and tattoos to be unprofessional. I’d err on the side of being permissive unless you know it is problematic for your customers/patients. Personally, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s just it; we have a nurse with tats up and down her arms and another with a nose stud and neither of them have received complaints when their ‘personalities’ were showing. The only reason this has become an issue is because of personal opinions people have within the office.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Another similar topic was brought up in comparison: crazy colored hair. No one had a problem if someone came in with purple hair, but God forbid a tattoo of a flower be visible.

          And I feel like I left an important part out of my post: our dress code is business casual. People wear jeans to work, so why not let someone have a nose piercing or tattoo showing?

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think anyone having facial piercing or tattoo might be insufficient for their jobs. At last their appearance will not decide their dedication towards their job. So according to me it’s totally inappropriate ✌✔

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I work at a community mental health center (not exactly the healthcare field, but we serve consumers of all ages at our facility). Our policy is that tattoos and piercings are okay, however they cannot have profanity or other inappropriate language or phrases, etc. I think at the end of the day if a consumer is put off by the tattoo or piercing, they can request a different provider within the agency. Do you have the option of the patient requesting a different nurse or doctor if they are uncomfortable? Maybe you could put it on the up front paperwork asking if they are comfortable being treated by a nurse or doctor with visible tattoos or piercings? not sure the legality of that, but just a suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I could see why a face full of piercings might scare some patients, but a nose ring or septum piercing shouldn’t affect anything. I agree with people above in saying that tattoos should be allowed to be left uncovered unless they’re offensive or inappropriate.


    • That’s just it; our previous policy stated that one facial piercing was allowed, but because the one was ‘distasteful’ in the eyes of a supervisor, the policy was revised to state no visible piercings other than ears. If one facial piercing is allowed, the controversy becomes: what about a tongue piercing or an eyebrow piercing… which is why I think they should explicitly state 1 nose stud allowed. It was fine for the last 5 years…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Honestly as long as the piercing or tattoos aren’t too obnoxious, it’s fine. Like if your whole arm was covered in flames and skulls and the like, I’d raise an eyebrow. But if it’s like a quote or a little design of some form, that’s fine. And way less distracting than bandages all over your arm. As for piercings, I think as long as it isn’t bullnose or tongue piercings, it’s fine. Those two I’d say are the least professional.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree to a point. We can’t very well nitpick what is allowed and what isn’t. It could be seen as discriminatory. That’s the hard part. Some of it isn’t bad, but if we allow the minor stuff, then that’s allowing the major stuff too.


      • I mean you have to some form of standards. There has to be a line between acceptable and unacceptable. Earrings aren’t as unprofessional as a tongue piercing for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hmmm. I’d have to say as someone who had a tongue piercing, I don’t agree. Tongue piercings are usually pretty private. My own mother didn’t realise I had one for four years, and that’s with a LOT of face-to-face conversation. I can probably count on one hand the amount of people who noticed my tongue piercing without my bringing it up, and I had that piercing for over a decade.

          Also, I never used them but you can buy see-through spacers for your tongue piercing, which would make it completely unnoticeable even to someone who was looking.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I think that a professional manner and respectful behaviour is more important than what a person looks like. I have had extremely well dressed and presented people be rude and discourteous. I think most people would overlook any sort of tattoo or piercing etc if the person was also wearing a kind smile and good manners.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have mixed thoughts about this… I think for people without tattoos or piercings there can be a line in the sand beyond which people are just sort of… obnoxiously forcing their preferences on you. In theory I have no issue with tattoos or piercings. In practice (especially in a healthcare setting), I think there needs to be an arbitrary line drawn. Saying that offensive tattoos are banned is fine, but then what about the guy that I saw crossing the street a few months back who has his whole face tattooed like a lizard, with implants along his browbone and a split tongue? Nothing about it is technically offensive, but…. would I want him doing my bloods? Probably not.

    I understand the “this is who I am” argument, but really this is not who you are, this is who you’ve made yourself. Willingly. Purposely. Knowing everything that comes with that, including judgment from older generations and the possibility you might not be able to work in places that frown on facial tattoos or lip rings. I don’t think it’s discrimination to put rules in place that limit the obvious decoration of employees.

    I think discreet tattoos and piercings are okay. If it’s not immediately extremely obvious (tattoos on your neck or face) and you can cover it or use a see-through spacer, then it should be fine. I know in the hospitals here eyebrow piercings and nose studs have to be covered with a small strip of bandage. I suppose it’s up to the business where they draw the line, but I do think that in less creative, more ‘professional’ workplaces there does need to be a line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suggested the bandage cover-up myself b/c that’s what I had to do when I played volleyball when I got a new ear piercing that would close if I took the ring out. The defense against the horns and split tongue could be made that no body modification is allowed that resembles animal like traits. I’ve been doing tons of research on this matter and that was something that was brought up.
      My thought (and I’m sure I’ve posted it here already somewhere…) is that I would much prefer a nurse conduct an examination with a couple cutesy/artistic tats on her arms that having bandages all over the place. If there were bandages, a patient wouldn’t know if they were covering tattoos or some nasty infection.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True! But why bandages and not just long sleeves? I feel like most tats can be covered with clothing. If it can’t be covered with clothing then it’s knuckles and necks and collarbones… It’s definitely tricky!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • That is very doable, but what about the summer months when nurses are making house calls in 90-100 degree heat? Are they going to be expected to wear long sleeves then? … I’m of course playing devil’s advocate here…

          Liked by 1 person

          • KVD tattoo eraser? Haha I really have no idea. I live in a moderate climate so these things aren’t an issue. Never gets over 20 degrees celsius here!

            It really is a tough call. I’m not sure how most businesses decide where to draw the line. It’s hard as well because on one hand, no complaints, but on the other hand is everyone who feels uncomfortable likely to complain? Probably not. They’d probably just switch providers. Or at least, they would in Ireland because passive aggression is the norm here. Argh! Nightmare.

            Liked by 1 person

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