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I started working as a programmer 3 months ago in a small company (only five persons, including my boss) in southern Germany. Usually I wear a piercing in my nasal septum, but for a more professional appearance I flipped it inward while at work, so neither my boss nor my colleagues know that I have a piercing.

Now that I've been there for a while and settled in, I am thinking about wearing it visibly because it's more comfortable. I have no contact to people from outside besides very rarely salesmen or business partners.

I have these possibilities:

  • Ask my boss if it's okay for him if I wear a piercing, while stating willingness to remove it in case customers or salesmen come in.
  • Tell my boss that I have this piercing now but that I can hide it (flip it in) if required.
  • Just appear at work with the septum visible from now on without mentioning it actively.

What is the best way to go about this?

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    I'm guessing your office/contract doesn't have an explicit dress code? – David K Jun 7 '17 at 18:49
  • In what type of business are you? Just as an example: For a small Internet startup where being "wild" is encouraged I would not worry the slightest bit, in a conservative banking/insurance environment I would be more cautious. – Martin Jun 8 '17 at 9:16
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    if (for some reason) you think it would be bad for your career, then have it removed. I guess you are in Munich not Berlin, if Berlin I suppose it would be expected :) If Munich, you're supposed to have that "certain Charm" right? Else, move to Berlin :) – Fattie Jun 8 '17 at 14:06
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The professional way of resolving this is to review your Office's dress code (ours can be found on our Employee's Handbook under the Office's code of conduct) and follow accordingly.

If there is none stated in the code, then consult your boss if you can wear said piercings.

Be prepared to remove them if he refuses so that you are comfortable at work.

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    I would second the dress code, ultimately there is a level of decorum that is often attributed to the workplace. – Frank FYC Jun 8 '17 at 4:32
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    I would be extremely surprised if a southern German small company had an employee handbook... – AllTheKingsHorses Jun 8 '17 at 10:11
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I live in Germany and I have never seen a "dress code" appear as part of any official documents at any job I've had here. I've never even seen an "employee handbook". Maybe really big companies have them, but in small to midsize offices it does not seem to be a thing the way it is in the US.

In addition, I haven't gathered that people here really care about piercings or things like this very much in the first place. For example, two of the assistants at my very posh doctor's office have facial piercings (one nose, one lip). I have an ear full of earrings. Nobody cares. Especially since you are not customer facing, I just don't think they will be overly concerned. They might be surprised, though, since they have been thus far unaware.

If you are worried I would go with a variation of option #2: "boss, I have a piercing in my septum which I can hide, if you prefer. Can you give me an overview of when I should hide it?"

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In general the most distinct point to make in Germany is if you have customer contact or not. If you do not have customer contact at all, then in my experience, in Germany and the technical world, you are pretty free to dress how you want, as long as you don't go too naked. Most People which I know are pretty tolerant, if they understand that you understand the rules (i.e. dress conservative when needed for the Job).

If it is a company of only 5 people, and you have mixed functions, then I would just wear it and informally ask the boss to tell me when he sees it fit not to wear it (e.g. going to customers etc.). Something like "I hope that this does not disturb anybody here, but please tell me if i should remove it in contact with business partners"

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