Getting a tattoo may be a personal endeavor, but it can have possible professional consequences. Could you really get fired for getting a tattoo?
The only definite answer is maybe. The leading factor is where you get the tattoo. If you’re getting it on your back or on your leg or ribs, odds are your workplace will never even know you have it unless you tell them. Even if you do tell them you have one, if it can’t be seen they likely won’t care.
However, if you get a tattoo in obvious areas, like your forearm, back of your neck, your face, or on your wrist, any visible area, you may get a few head shakes from your employer. But is your tattoo cause for termination?
It depends. In the employee handbook or agreement you signed when you were hired, there is likely a section in there that states appropriate attire regarding clothing, piercings, hair color and style, and visible tattoos. If your handbook which you had to sign prior to being hired on states you cannot have visible tattoos at work, you may be in trouble. But if the handbook states nothing about tattoos, visible or otherwise, or if you never were required to sign a handbook stating the rules of being an employee, you may be fine.
Also, if you got hired with a pre-existing visible tattoo there should be no flak about a new one.
Now it depends on your position. If you’re in management, you can likely get away with having a tattoo that is visible at work. If you’re lower on the totem pole, you may be in trouble. If you work in a right-to-work state (like Idaho), your butt may be out the door before the tattoo fully heals. If you’ve been working at the company for some time, you could be fine. If you’ve never been written up or reprimanded and do a good job at what you do, your company may be willing to overlook your personal addition to keep on a great employee versus replacing you.
Or you could be one of those lucky people who is actually valued at your job, and can get a tattoo or light your hair on fire- they don’t care so long as you continue working with them because you are actually well-liked.
You should consider many factors though, before getting a tattoo (a visible one, anyhow), and how it may or may not affect your job. Is your job highly professional? Is your boss easy going? Do you have to work with a lot of people? Is your work attire business, or business casual? You should at least let your boss know you are considering a tattoo prior to getting one so they are aware and can let you know if there will be any repercussions. Don’t just show up at work with a huge koi fish down your forearm and expect them to smile about it.
If you are going to get a tattoo, consider the working factors first. One job may be OK with your tattoo, others won’t give you the time of day. So you best be set in your career before you get a visible tattoo that may cost you a great job in the future. You may not get fired this time, but you may not get hired again elsewhere just because you have a tattoo.