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Rules in the workplace: are you allowed to wear a nose ring behind the reception?

Visible piercings or tattoos, a bright hair color or a striking clothing style: these are personal choices you make to look the way you want. But your clothing and appearance preferences may conflict with your employer's regulations. This can cause problems, because your employer has something to say about your appearance to a certain extent. But what exactly, and where is the limit? Our specialists explain it in great detail.

What's in the rules?

Your employer has a right of instruction. This allows him to ask you to adhere to certain dress or appearance regulations when you perform your work. It is important to distinguish between two types of regulations. On the one hand you have rules about safety: for example, in a factory you often have to wear safety clothing, a hairnet and apron in the kitchen, and piercings in some environments can be dangerous for you and others. On the other hand, you have regulations about what is appropriate – a kind of dress code. These differ per company, and sometimes even per position: different regulations may apply to a receptionist than to a telephone salesman.

Which regulations are allowed and which are not?

In principle, your employer is allowed to determine how you look while representing the company. But certain rules do apply. For example, no distinction should be made between men and women. In addition, it must always be clear what the consequences are if you do not comply with the regulations.

Some regulations impede your fundamental right to privacy or freedom of religion. These cannot simply be violated. Whether the interests of your employer outweigh your fundamental rights depends on the answer to the following questions:

  • Does the violation of your fundamental rights serve a legitimate purpose, such as the safety of you or others?
  • Does the infringement help achieve that legitimate aim? For example, do vests really provide a safer working environment?
  • Is the infringement proportionate to the purpose? In other words, aren't the regulations too heavy?
  • Can't your employer achieve the goal in a less drastic way?

Is the answer to one or more questions 'no'? Then it is quite possible that the prescription is not reasonable or too strict.

What if nothing is recorded?

Some employers have no regulations in their company regulations. Still, they can expect you to adhere to certain dress codes – and this too can violate your fundamental rights. In addition, unwritten rules are more difficult for your employer to enforce. For example, imagine a sweltering summer. Can you arrive at work in shorts and flip flops if nothing is recorded? That also depends on your company and position: in some places this will not be seen as representative, and will therefore not be accepted.

Wondering what to wear to work and what not? Then discuss this with your employer. This way you can determine together which regulations or expectations are reasonable. 

So: are you allowed to wear a nose ring behind the reception?

It is therefore possible that your employer does not allow a nose ring behind the reception because it is not representative, while this is allowed in the back office, for example. He must clearly let you know and substantiate this. 

Disagree with the regulations?

Your employer may therefore not simply impose regulations: he must have a legitimate interest in doing so. In addition, the rules should not be too strict. Do you disagree with your employer? Talk about it. Or contact De Unie: our legal specialists look closely at your situation, present you various options and assess whether your employer's policy has been drawn up correctly.

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Want to know more?

Do you have questions about your employer's regulations about how you look? Or do you not agree with the policy, and would you like to enlist the help of a legal specialist? Please contact our Service Center. We are available every working day from 8.00 am to 18.00 pm via and 0345 851 963.