No snacks, no ‘bless you’ for sneezers, and you must wear goggles to use a stapler: Employees reveal the worst office rules
- Reddit thread attracted nearly 14,000 comments from disgruntled workers
- They were inspired by the story of Florida school girl Kiera Wilmot
- She was expelled and arrested for an explosion because of school rules
The Reddit thread was inspired by the story of Florida teenager Kiera Wilmot, who was expelled for a science experiment because the school had to stick to its rules
Thought your office had strange rules? Some of these tales of from the workplace may have you counting your blessings.
From regulations for the length of beards to bans on food, it seems some bosses have created rules – and refused to budge – just because they can.
A thread discussing dumb workplace rules on Reddit attracted nearly 14,000 contributions from disgruntled employees, prompted by the story of Florida teenager Kiera Wilmot.
Kiera, 16, said by her high school principal to be a good kid, was expelled and charged with explosives offences for an experiment that went wrong last week.
She was mixing aluminum foil and toilet cleaner in an 8oz water bottle before school when the elements reacted and caused an explosion.
Although she said she was just curious to see what happened – and had the good school grades to back this up – she was expelled from Bartow High School in Polk County because they had to stick to school rules over unsupervised explosives.
With Kiera’s story in mind, Reddit users shared their worst experience of ‘rules are rules’ being taken to the extreme by jobsworth managers.
The most popular tale regarded cell phones at a laser tag arena, trying to combat the problem of younger workers finding creative ways to get round the cell phone ban.
‘No cell phone shaped objects in your pockets at work,’ wrote one employee.
‘At first I thought it was a typo, then they started to write people up for wallets, packs of gum, and other rectangular shapes in our pockets.’
One user shared a story about someone reacting badly to a show of social niceties.
‘Someone at work sneezed and another one said “Bless You!” A third party heard it and complained to HR about it.
‘Guy who said “bless you” was given a warning and had to take a course in professionalism.
‘That’s something most people say as without thinking and they mean it in a good way.’
One worker was given a warning for saying ‘bless you’ to a sneezing colleague
One attorney told how they are not allowed to bring in soda to share with other employees because the office has a vending machine.
They also said that they have to tell their receptionist where they are going when they leave the office and inform her of their return.
‘I’m an attorney for christ’s sake, I had more autonomy in undergrad,’ they wrote.
One user, who said they worked for the United States federal government, said staff are not allowed to move their own furniture.
They wrote: ‘Want to slide a desk across the room? Can’t. That is violating union rules, and taking work away from the facilities team. You have to call and schedule the movers. Then they charge you for it.’.
Another government rule on food and personal items was proved to be bananas.
‘People used to keep snacks on their desk while working, because we’re human.
‘The employer implemented “lean working” so every desk had to be totally empty, except for select items that had to be arranged in a certain way (pens had to be to the upper left of the keyboard, I think).
‘This rule forbid food items, but allowed one “personal item”. One staff member had a banana in a banana case as her personal item. She was told to put it away.
One woman tried to get round the ‘no food’ rule by claiming an ‘inactive’ banana in a banana case was a personal item
‘She refused and took it further until it was ruled that because she wasn’t eating it and the skin hadn’t been broken, it was an “inactive banana” and thus a personal item. It only became active during the act of eating, at which point it became food.’
A ‘ritzy cafe’ had five ‘separate and distinct’ rules for men wanting to wear beards, according to one user.
‘Beards had to be between a certain length or you had to shave it. No mutton chops beard style chops. Rules about moustache/beard combos. If you wanted to grow a beard, you were not allowed back into work for two weeks until you grew it out to a “respectable length”.’
Facial hair was clearly problematic for more places than the cafe. Another user said: ‘At my former job we weren’t allowed to “grow” facial hair.
‘So we were allowed to either have no facial hair at all, or have a FULLY grown moustache.
‘Our manager told us if we wanted to have a moustache, we would have to go on vacation, grow a stash, and come back from our vacation with a fully grown moustache.
One warehouse won’t relax the ‘no hats’ rules for its bald workers
‘So on the next day we all showed up wearing fake moustaches.’
One warehouse took its dress code too far, according to another Reddit commenter.
‘I work in a warehouse. No hats. It’s cold here in the winter and the poor bald guys can’t wear hats.’
Stationery proved problematic, too, said one contributor.
‘We have to wear safety goggles when using a stapler at work due to an idiotic employee.’
While one office doesn’t trust its employee with water bottles – possibly because they think they will fill them with alcohol.
‘My place of employment only lets staff drink water from small cups, and you must drink the whole cup immediately, then dispose of the cup,’ said another Redditor.
‘You are not allowed to have water bottles on shift, no matter which part of the store you are working in. If you are on break (unpaid time) you cannot purchase a bottle of water, even if you drink all of it and dispose of the bottle before you come back on shift.’
An insurance company took punctuality to extremes: ‘You are allowed one fifteen minute break at 10:30. You are allowed your lunch at 1:00, and you are allowed one more fifteen minute break at 3:30.
‘If you are ONE MINUTE late coming back from any of those three things, you are immediately written up’
Naturally technology presents its own problems.
‘At my work there are signs on the printers that say the warranty will be void if the printer is turned off,’ said another comment.
One office banned water bottles – only allowing workers to drink from a small cup
While the simple act of supplying the printer and fax machines had its own rules, too.
‘Moving a single box without a dolly was breaking the rules. Well, since I am not a tiny girl (unlike all my coworkers) but rather a giant rugger, I would carry several boxes of paper around with me when resupplying the copy and fax machines,’ said one user.
‘They eventually fired me over it.’