Jewellery at work: a guide

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Jewellery can raise a lot of questions in the workplace. What should you wear to a job interview? What about your first day on the job? Should you remove multiple piercings? Can your employer stop you wearing jewellery?

In this article, we will try and answer some of the questions we get asked most often.

What jewellery should I wear to a job interview?

Nice jewellery can give you confidence. It can finish an outfit and create the appearance that you’ve made an effort. Generally, then, it is perfectly acceptable to wear jewellery to a job interview. Keep to one or two basic pieces – for example, some simple threader earrings and a classic bracelet. Showy dangly pieces and excessive jewellery such as an armful of bangles will generally be viewed less favourably in a professional setting.

Kit heath bangle

Above: Bangle by Kit Heath at John Lewis, £112

Bar threader earrings

Above: Sterling Silver bar threader earrings by threaderearrings.co.uk

Should men wear jewellery to work?

Absolutely – gender has nothing to do with it and everyone should consider adding one or two good quality pieces to complete their look.

Good options for men include cufflinks, lapel pins, bracelets and rings. Whether you opt for a simple bracelet, classic cufflinks or a simple ring, accessorising with jewellery can give you a confidence boost, elevate your outfit and help you to express your personality.

It is fair to say that earrings are generally perceived less favourably on men in professional settings. The guys at Trendhim suggest you think about where you will be working and consider: Will my choice to wear an earring help me or hurt me? Not every boss will appreciate your stylish side. In that case, show your personality with something a bit more acceptable and less controversial.

Can I wear jewellery to work?

Every employer has different guidelines regarding the jewellery that can be worn to work. These may be impacted by health and safety considerations (see below). If you are unsure, ask your employer whether they have a policy relating to jewellery. For general office environments, it may be part of their Staff Handbook – while for engineering and manufacturing environments, it is more likely to be part of their health and safety code.

Example jewellery policy 1

No watches, small badges or visible jewellery of any sort are allowed (including tooth jewellery), with the exception of a plain wedding band is permitted to be worn by any employee (this includes management) as they could get caught in equipment, trap dirt and become a food safety risk or source of physical contamination.

~ McDonalds

Example jewellery policy 2

In situations where physical contact is needed or there is a possibility of violence, staff must not wear sharp, dangling or exposed pierced jewellery. There is a high risk that they can become entangled during a moving and handling procedure, providing personal care or when close contact with clients is required. These can cause serious injury to staff or clients. Close fitting wedding bands are acceptable. Studs can be worn at the manager’s discretion, dependant on the work being carried out. The back of the studs must be secure to prevent them falling out and becoming caught up in personal care paraphernalia or falling into food.

~ Adult Care workers, Derbyshire County Council

Should I hide multiple piercings?

The answer to this very much depends on the culture of the company you are going to work for. Try and assess how others look and whether multiple piercings are likely to be acceptable. It’s also worth considering (at least at interview stage) whether the nature and/or location of your piercings might distract from your talent. You want the interviewer to be focused on what you have to offer and nothing else.

Can my employer stop me wearing jewellery to work?

Generally, employers can restrict or stop employees from wearing jewellery to work as part of their dress code.

Sometimes this will relate to health and safety concerns, especially in the food service and manufacturing industries.

However, sometimes it will simply be a reflection of how the employer wants to present themselves.

Any rules must be applied equal amongst all genders. The rules do not have to be exactly the same, but must be basically equivalent.

The position regarding religious jewellery is a little different. Because of your rights under Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, employers cannot ban employees wearing this, unless there is a clear health and safety issue. Even in those cases, they must consider carefully whether their policy has gone too far. Here is a good example of a policy that seeks to compromise on wearing faith jewellery in a care setting:

Where there is a clearly stated requirement for articles of faith to be carried or worn, such as the Kara (an iron bracelet worn by Sikhs), the member of staff must inform their manager. If such articles are obligatory, they must be placed discreetly under clothing or covered so that they do not affect the safety of clients or other staff. Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate the requirements of all religions, the carrying or wearing of these articles will be at the discretion of the manager and based on risk assessment. Safety will be the overriding priority.

~ Adult Care workers, Derbyshire County Council

Note that employers cannot simply introduce a policy that religious jewellery can be worn only if it is hidden (for example, to ensure it does not offend people of different religions). This would not be an acceptable infringement of Article 9, which may only be interfered with to protect:

  • public safety;
  • the protection of public order, health or morals; or
  • the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Check-in clerk Nadia Eweida won her case against British Airways in 2013, after it told her to hide her white gold cross. But Shirley Chaplin, a nurse, lost her case when the hospital where she worked requested that she stop wearing a cross on the grounds of health and safety. The hospital were concerned that a patient might grab the necklace – they therefore had a reason which was an acceptable interference with Article 9.

What jewellery should I wear on my first day?

If there are no particular reasons for avoiding jewellery (e.g. food service, adult care, manufacturing – as above), keep your jewellery to a minimum on your first day of a new job. This will give you the opportunity to assess how others present themselves and to ensure that your quantity and style of jewellery is similar to others that work at the company. Take note especially of team leaders and managers and try to follow their example.

The Total Practice Management Association (Total PMA) is dedicated to the advancement of Solicitors, Legal Executives, Paralegals and other legal support staff in their struggle to build and manage a profitable practice without sacrificing their personal life.

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