Tattoos in the workplace

  1. Hey all!
    There was recently an email sent out by our manager talking about dress code and how patients or other staff can ask us to cover our tattoos if they are offended by them. There's no actually hospital policy stating we aren't allowed to have tattoos or that they absolutely must be covered up, I believe the policy states that they must be covered as much as possible. I see more staff with tattoos than not these days. I have one on my arm and some days it's just too hot to wear long sleeves so it's not always covered. I personally want more but after my manager deiscovered one on my arm she told me not to go getting anymore and that if I do I won't be able to go much further in nursing if I'm covered in tattoos. Which I find ridiculous. I've never had a patient or anyone else complain about my tattoos being visible. She seems to be the only one that has a huge problem with it but tries to play it off like she doesn't. What's your take on the matter?
    Last edit by Brian S. on Oct 22
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    About KB4848

    Joined: Sep '18; Posts: 11; Likes: 31

    52 Comments

  3. by   rdsxfnrn
    All of my tattoos can be covered by short sleeved scrubs. I did that for a reason and your current issue is the reason!

    Find out your official hospital policy and go with that. I do not think she can override that, can she?
  4. by   Aunt Slappy
    I've seen ER docs with full sleeves, doesn't seem to be holding them back. I've worked with tons of aides and nurses with visible tattoos and they're a non-issue. This may depend on where you live though.

    Mine isn't visible but I have plans for more that will be. My next one will be a religious symbol on my wrist and anyone that wants to have an issue with that can go take a long walk off a short pier.
  5. by   OldDude
    I think tattoos will be less and less an issue as their popularity continues to increase; until then certainly check on the actual hospital policy.
  6. by   llg
    Traditionally, nurses have not been allowed to have visible tattoos. Any tattoos needed to be covered. Most hospitals had formal policies to that effect. Any nurse who had visible tattoos could expect to disciplined, not hired, not chosen for promotion, etc. Whether you agreed with that state of affairs or not, that was the way it was.

    However in recent years, tattoos have become more common and employer policies have loosened up a bit. We are in a period of transition in which there is not a consistent national consensus or standard. Nurses getting visible tattoos now have to make an informed decision for themselves -- knowing that while there are fewer repercussions for that choice now than there used to be, there still may be some negative repercussions that will come with that choice.

    It's up to each person to decide whether or not they want to live with the repercussions that might come from getting a visible tattoo or not -- and make their choices being prepared for the possible consequences.

    For me, it's hard to devise a "firm and final" policy. I think it a lot depends upon the particular setting, the particular tattoo, etc.
  7. by   OldDude
    Quote from Aunt Slappy
    I've seen ER docs with full sleeves, doesn't seem to be holding them back. I've worked with tons of aides and nurses with visible tattoos and they're a non-issue. This may depend on where you live though.

    Mine isn't visible but I have plans for more that will be. My next one will be a religious symbol on my wrist and anyone that wants to have an issue with that can go take a long walk off a short pier.
    I have a friend with "Type 1 Diabetic" tattooed on the entire length of his lower arm. How would that plug into this scenario????
  8. by   KB4848
    This is a direct quote of the policy:

    "Tattoos must be covered as much as possible. Employees who have a visible tattoo that could reasonably be considered degrading, offensive, or demeaning to patients, family members, co-workers, or management must have it covered at all times while on health system property. Out of respect for our patients, employees must cover a tattoo if a patient complains about a tattoo while they are being cared for. Extreme body altering and branding must not be visible"
    Which is pretty vague to me, and personally want more tattoos, so I don't really think it's okay for my manager to tell me I can't get anymore or I'm not going to go any further in nursing.
  9. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from KB4848
    Which is pretty vague to me, and personally want more tattoos, so I don't really think it's okay for my manager to tell me I can't get anymore or I'm not going to go any further in nursing.
    Your manager may be more cognizant of the culture of your hospital and those around you than you are. In many places tattoos are not considered professional. They can be intimidating to older patients. She/He might be doing you a favor. I don' think it's personal.
  10. by   OldDude
    Quote from KB4848
    This is a direct quote of the policy:

    "Tattoos must be covered as much as possible. Employees who have a visible tattoo that could reasonably be considered degrading, offensive, or demeaning to patients, family members, co-workers, or management must have it covered at all times while on health system property. Out of respect for our patients, employees must cover a tattoo if a patient complains about a tattoo while they are being cared for. Extreme body altering and branding must not be visible"
    Which is pretty vague to me, and personally want more tattoos, so I don't really think it's okay for my manager to tell me I can't get anymore or I'm not going to go any further in nursing.
    This is a feel good statement crafted to satisfy everyone...I think your manager does need to answer to admin for threatening your professional future.
  11. by   beekee
    Complete guess here, but I surmise that a nurse with visible tattoos will be tolerated at your place of employment. However, your manager is hinting that if you want to go into management, tattoos are not as accepted and may hinder your advancement.
  12. by   psu_213
    The tattoo issue is one of the most often discussed topics on AN. Tattoos are becoming much more common, and a lot of people, including myself, do not care if their nurse, doctor etc. have visible tattoos, even if they are covered in tattoos. There are many people, however, who do not want a caregiver with tattoos, and I know managers and supervisors who will not hire people with tattoos, particularly for higher lever and management level jobs, even if there is not hospital policy barring tattoos. Is that fair? Not really, but that is the way it goes.

    I tend to agree with what the PP said--perhaps it was your manager giving you a hit that if you want to advance, tattoos may hold you back. Again, personally, I don't think they should, but they may.
  13. by   Been there,done that
    Check out the many threads here on tattoos. Review the policy. However, if your manager has directed you, pick your battles wisely.
  14. by   Davey Do
    Quote from Aunt Slappy
    anyone that wants to have an issue with that can go take a long walk off a short pier.
    tat2-jpg

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