Should Tattoos and Body Piercings be Tolerated in the Restaurant Industry?

Piercings and tattoos at work is a highly controversial issue, especially in fields where individualism and personal expression is encouraged. Below covers what you need to know about such policies and how it can affect your career in the restaurant industry.

The Reality of Ink and Metal

Piercings and tattoos do not reflect how committed an employee is to his or her job, nor does it provide reliable insights on work ethics. The problem most often has to do with how a restaurant wants to be perceived by its customers. If the food establishment caters to formal C-level executives or conservative seniors, the likelihood of a lax ink and metal policy is very slim.

Liability Issues

As a restaurant owner, there are a few reasons why piercings and tattoos could become a serious liability concern. First, it is important to clarify that such bodily expressions do not raise red flags for poor hygiene.

Instead, the possibility of an earring or a nose piercing getting caught on an article of clothing or object is frighteningly real. Some might argue that it doesn’t happen often, but it still could, which is why it’s risky. In the same context, some restaurants impose a strict, no jewelry policy for cooks to eliminate the chances of a ring or wristband from falling into the stockpot or buffet tray.

Tattoos don’t carry the same problems as piercings simply because they’re permanent, greatly minimizing liability issues and workplace accidents. However, some employees do cover their personal markings during service hours using bandages. Temporary dressings are known to come off easily when exposed to sweat, heat and abrasion. For such cases, it would actually be more beneficial for workers not to conceal their tattoos.

Varied Policies and Preferences

Piercings and tattoos pros and cons vary from restaurant to restaurant. Some food establishments have no tolerance policies, and treat inks and metals as part of the dress code. This means an employer can fire a staff member for having a tattoo without worrying about discrimination disputes.

It is common for restaurants to limit restrictions on piercings and tattoos to specific roles in the business. Positions that entail direct contact with the public may be subject to such policies. Additionally, supervisor posts that require high-level responsibilities are increasingly prone to the no piercings and tattoos rule.

The good news is a growing number of restaurant owners are slowly coming around to the idea of allowing piercings and tattoos in the workplace. This is largely due to the influx of young, open-minded individuals entering the workforce and filling in managerial positions.

Amanda Haddaway from Careerealism points out the industry’s current standing on ink and metal piercings:

“In recent years, the number of people with tattoos and body piercings has increased significantly and we may see employers relax their standards in the future, but we’re not there yet. If you have tattoos and piercings and you feel they are an important part of your personality, make sure you find a workplace that’s accepting of them.”