I have believed for many years that a water safety staff member should have no tattoos that are visible outside normal uniform. i.e. not visible outside shorts or short sleeved shirts. that way there was still a professional look but individuals could still express themselves with body art or quality individuals with non visible tattoos could be hired. Recently some members of my dept went out and got tattoos. One on the ankle and one on the forearm. You would think that I could terminate them but alas there are members of other departments, food and beverage and maintenance that have visible tattoos so if I terminate them we are open for a discriminatory lawsuit.
So I created a survey amongst my peers to see how the industry was dealing with the ever increasing tattoos issue.
Interestingly the overwhelming message is that apparently other aquatic facilities are a lot 'looser' with their tattoo policy.
I saw the survey and I do not think lifeguards should have to cover their tattoos. Yes they are professionals but having tattoos does not mean they will do their job any worse. Not all professions make their employees cover their tattoos. It is especially unfair for lifeguards because of their required uniform. A bathing suit for man or woman barely covers any part of the body besides the mid section. I think it is a ridiculous rule.
In my facility you are not allowed to guard with a fresh tattoo because it is an open wound. This makes sense because it is being treated like any other open wound. Any other policy seems unfair to me.
Thanks for taking the time to share your views and thats why I put this as a discussion as I knew there would be strong feelings for and against. I have worked during the 90's and 2000's and have been located in the shadow of Walt Disney World who strongly influence the grooming and appearance guidelines for this area as far as themepark/ waterpark standards. I felt there was a need to update our policy and this was a great way to get input from other lifeguarded pools.
I would love a copy of your results if it isn't too late?? We have an ongoing dialogue with this issue as well. No formal policy, but me deciding what is offensive. I have visible tattoos on my arms/legs/etc. so I can't be too strict with my employees. I do forbid pierced nipples on my male swim instructors, though. Wow...modern times!