Bosses need good reason to ban tattoos: Lawyers

Arbitrators consider how intrusive employer’s rules are on employees’ personal lives
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/19/2013

In many workplaces, setting out how employees dress is a management prerogative. The image employees project can impact how an organization markets and delivers its services.

In a unionized workplace, there are limits to what rules employers can put in place. But if they set out rules touching on tattoos and body piercings, they might run the risk of going too far.

A fresh reminder of these limits came by way of a recent arbitration ruling involving The Ottawa Hospital, a large amalgamated hospital employing 14,000 people in the nation;s capital. In the decision, an arbitrator struck down a new policy on tattoos, which allowed for small, discreet and unobtrusive tattoos to be exposed. But “large tattoos, if visible, will be covered during working hours.”