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Dress Codes: Tattoos, Piercings and Man Buns
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Employee Experience

Tattoos, Piercings and Man Buns, Oh My! – Finding the Dress Code That’s Right for Your Organization

What kind of dress code should you have? The answer to that question may

come down to the kind of company culture you have or want to have.

There’s no universally-applicable dress code for successful businesses.

And what works fabulously in one office might prove distracting in the

next. 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


Whatever your situation, we recommend that you have a written policy

that explains your expectations. These expectations may be specific or

general, depending on your needs. If you anticipate questions from

employees about what they can wear (e.g., jeans, shorts, or sandals), it

may be worth mentioning them in your policy.

Tattoos and Piercings

If you’re concerned about visible tattoos or body piercings conflicting

with your organization’s image, you may prohibit them entirely or you

may simply prohibit those that are offensive, distracting,

inappropriate, or over a certain size. Your policy could also be

something general like “Tattoos and piercings must be appropriate and in

keeping with a professional image.” What qualifies as appropriate should

be determined by the top brass.

However, 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.

Facial Hair and Man Buns

It is legal to have an across-the-board policy that facial hair is not

permitted or must be well-trimmed. However, some disabilities preclude

people from being able to shave regularly, and there are also some

religious traditions with closely held beliefs regarding facial hair. If

an employee indicates an objection to your policy based on a verifiable

disability or religious belief, you will almost certainly need to make

an exception. While an accommodation can, in theory, be refused if it

creates an undue burden, that standard is very high and hard to meet.

For companies with dress codes, those undue burdens are usually related

to legitimate safety, health, or security concerns.

The same holds true for hair length. While your dress code may specify

that hair length on men may not pass a certain length, we strongly

recommend you consider a policy that simply requires hair to be pulled

back and neatly groomed. Our best practice recommendation is to make

dress codes gender neutral to avoid employees feeling that they are

being treated disparately.


It’s in your best interest to create a written dress code policy that

fits with your company culture and image, but be sure to make exceptions

or accommodations if they’re appropriate.

Looking to make updates to your employee handbook but aren’t sure where

to begin? Paycor’s HR Support


provides custom employee handbook templates and sample policies to help

set the proper expectations with your employees. Plus, one year of

Support Center is cheaper than just one hour of a typical attorney’s

time. Ask



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