Can You Have a Beard at Burger King? (Facial Hair Policies in 2022)

You want to work for the King of Burgers. Will your beard be a hit or a whopper of a problem? While once frowned upon, beards are now being allowed behind the grills at Burger King.

Employees at Burger King are allowed to have a neatly trimmed beard or mustache. While working directly with food, you may be required to wear a beard net in order to avoid potential contamination problems. As with most franchised businesses, the final determination will be made by the owner or restaurant manager.

Read on to learn more about the facial hair policy at Burger King!

Are Burger King employees allowed to have facial hair, beards, or mustaches?

If you take a look at Burger King’s mascot through the years, you will see him proudly wearing a hefty mustache AND beard. However, what’s good for the King hasn’t always been good for the male employees.

Today it is widely acceptable for Burger King employees to have facial hair including beards and mustaches. Before 2020, the only facial hair that was allowed was a well-trimmed mustache.

For decades, Burger King only allowed tamed mustaches. Even as recently as 2016, message board discussions were dominated by “no beards allowed” chatter. Petitions and lawsuits paved the way for a more flexible facial hair policy.

Many Burger Kings are owned and operated by independent franchise owners. While employees must abide by the Burger King Corporate requirements, franchise owners may put more stringent rules into effect. For the final word, you’ll need to contact your local restaurant.

Fun Fact: The original 1950s Burger King mascot was clean-shaven, but soon a beard became synonymous with this member of burger royalty. The bearded mascot has been featured in tv shows, NFL ads, video games, and more.

Do you have to shave your beard to work at Burger King?

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when shaving a beard was a prerequisite to Burger King employment. 

Currently, you do not have to shave your beard to work at Burger King. Changes to the employee grooming code allow for short, neatly trimmed facial hair. 

Burger King prides itself on “have it your way” burgers. Now, male employees can also reap the benefits of “have it your way” facial hair. Well, as long as “your way” falls within the cheekless, half-inch parameters.

Can you have a beard when working with food?

Whenever there’s hair involved, there’s the potential for a stray strand to fall into the food. Since this is the case, where do food safety regulators fall on the issue? Surprisingly, most health and safety boards give facial hair a pass as long as it’s clean and covered.

Neatly groomed beards are acceptable when working with food. Beard nets are recommended to contain hair and prevent food contamination.

Health inspectors often cite bearded food service workers who fail to wear a beard net. The citations are considered minor violations but often make management more consistent with beard net enforcement.

Do you have to wear a beard net at Burger King?

Even though local health departments dictate or strongly recommend beard nets, that doesn’t mean they are always used in practice. 

Beard nets are required at most Burger King locations while preparing or cooking food. While enforcement of the beard net can vary by individual managers, most employees report it as a requirement.

Beard nets aren’t the most comfortable or attractive accessory so it’s no surprise they aren’t always a priority. Some employees report that beard nets aren’t even allowed in their BK stores while others say all bearded employees wear them.

Official Burger King facial hair policy in 2022

Burger King’s facial hair policy was amended in 2020 and still holds firm today. Good news for the whisker crew – beards are now acceptable within certain guidelines.

Burger King’s official 2022 facial hair policy permits goatees, beards, and mustaches as long as facial hair doesn’t cover the cheeks. The maximum length of beard hair allowed is ½ inch.

While your ZZTop beard won’t pass the measurement test, short beards are ok. In recent employee recruitment videos, general managers and staff members alike are seen with short beards and mustaches. 

Can you be fired for growing a beard at Burger King?

Burger King has made the news a few times for its ban on the beard.

Since a beard is now included in Burger King’s appearance policy, you cannot be fired for growing one as long as it meets the grooming standards. It is up to each Burger King manager’s discretion to prevent employees from working if they feel these grooming standards are not met.

One of the driving forces behind the change in company-wide beard policy was a lawsuit in Spain. Even though Spain is one of the most bearded countries in Europe, male employees at Barcelona Burger King restaurants were required to be clean-shaven. Labor unions got involved and the courts ruled in favor of the employees. The Burger King beard ban was dethroned in Barcelona and soon made its way to the U.S.

Does facial hair policy vary at different Burger King locations?

With almost 20,000 restaurants around the world, you might expect some beard acceptance fluctuations, but consistency rules.

While it seems that Burger King’s beard policy is standard across locations, there is always a chance that appearance interpretations can vary among management.

The good news is that most employees report with glee that beards are off the chopping block. Also, a look through franchise handbooks across the nation shows the beard clause in black and white.

Are there exemptions for beards and mustaches at Burger King?

Even during the “beard ban” years, Burger King had a clause in the employee appearance code to allow for beards for religious reasons. However, there have been some compliance hiccups along the way.

Burger King does make exemptions for beards and mustaches for religious and medical reasons as long as the changes don’t place an “undue hardship” on store operations. Any physical or religious concerns should be brought to the attention of management.

In 2004, a Muslim employee was told to shave his beard by a Pennsylvania Burger King manager. The employee was fired for his refusal to comply even after showing a letter from his religious iman. Burger King lost the lawsuit and the offending location was ordered to provide more thorough training on employees’ rights.

Religious or cultural beliefs

Beards can be an integral part of one’s faith walk. Muslims, Sikhs, and Rastafarians can often receive reasonable facial hair accommodations even if beards are not allowed.

Burger King does offer facial hair exemptions for religious or cultural reasons; however, they may require the beard to be restrained or set limits on length to meet food safety guidelines.

The best course of action is to discuss any concerns with management before employment. This will allow you to work together to find solutions.

Medical reasons

Painful skin conditions can make frequent shaving a nightmare for some men. 

Burger King may offer facial hair exemptions for medical reasons in some situations. Medical documentation is often required and approval granted by upper management.

Since the affected skin may include the cheek area, special permission may be needed to grant beard growth in this area of the face.