Q: My nanny wants to get a tattoo. Can I ask her not to do so, or require that she cover it while in my home?
A: An issue like this warrants a discussion with your nanny, and in this case it’s fortunate that she brought up the idea with you beforehand, as opposed to her showing up at your home one day with the tattoo already there. One way to avoid this issue arising during employment is to go over your dress code policy – including tattoos – prior to hiring your nanny.
Some families are widely accepting of “body art” like tattoos and piercings, while others may feel it’s inappropriate for any employee – particularly one that cares for your children – to have them. Assuming your nanny is over 18, she can legally get a tattoo without parental consent. However, as an employer, you have to right to enforce a tattoo policy for nannies. We recommend following your written dress code policy regarding tattoos in the workplace – your home. If your dress code policy does not address covering visible tattoos, or do so in a way you like, consider revising it. You may decide to prohibit visible tattoos entirely or you may simply prohibit tattoos that are offensive, distracting, inappropriate, or over a certain size. The policy could even be something general like “Tattoos must be appropriate and in keeping with a professional image.”
As an employer, you create the rules to promote the “company culture” of your home. You may want to stress that a nanny is a role model of sorts for your children, and seeing their nanny with inked skin may encourage them to want one as well. If that goes against the values you want your children to follow, you need to explain that to your nanny as a reason you do not want to see a tattoo while she is with your kids. If you decide that it’s ok for her to have one, provided it’s covered while in your home, keep in mind that if she takes the kids swimming and wears a bathing suit, the tattoo will likely be exposed.
Whatever you decide, 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. When you’ve decided on a policy, be sure to communicate your reasons to your nanny and update your employee handbook.
For more information, please contact us at (518) 348-0400.