Not all of us are lucky to work at jobs that we love. Sometimes, we don't have the luxury to be choosy — with the bills constantly piling up and life, in general, getting in the way, we sometimes just have to get through our 9-to-5s to get paid, even if it means having to put up with certain things that are unfair or that we don't agree with. Frustrated people from around the world took to the internet to share the most ridiculous rule in their place of work. From timed washroom breaks to nonsensical rules for tardiness, these stories will likely have you shaking your head at just how absurd some of these rules are. Can you relate? Keep reading to find out:
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#1 All For A Pen
I once needed a pen. I figured this was a reasonable thing to ask for. I went to the supply closet on my floor, which was locked. I then asked the floor's admin and she told me to go to the main supply room in the basement. I went to the basement and explained my situation of needing a pen. The staff there told me that all requests for supplies must be approved by my department head. The problem was, being new, I'd never met my department head. She also worked in San Francisco (I worked in Milwaukee), so I needed to send an email both introducing myself and asking her if I had permission to get a pen from the supply closet.
#2 Fantasy Football Above All
All recreational activity is forbidden on company time & resources... Except for fantasy football. I work in IT and I just got a call this morning from one of our offices to unblock the CBS Sports page from the firewall this afternoon so they can do their fantasy football draft. From the regional manager. But whenever an executive walks by my desk and sees anything that doesn't look like Powershell, command prompt, or our server browser open, they harass me about wasting company time.
#3 Sucky New Management
Two weeks after I left my previous job, a memo went round saying people aren't allowed to look out of the windows at work anymore. It's a freaking giant glass building. Apparently, it was considered "unprofessional" by the new manager who came in. She made a bunch of ridiculous rules. I'd been there almost two years at that time and couldn't be arsed anymore within a month of her being there.
#4 From High School To Real Life
I used to work for a large bank. We had an attendance policy that was so complicated it actually created an incentive for employees to take an entire day off rather than be tardy too often. Funny enough, my high school had that too. If you were late enough to miss the first period, you got a cut, which was detention. Even being late to the first period three times counted as a cut, which was another detention. An absence was just an absence, no cuts, no detentions.
#5 Strict On Coffee Breaks
We can't ask others if they want to come by and grab a coffee in the break room. It's a distraction, apparently, especially given the layout of our floor. Our open office plan is a huge success except for the massive hit to productivity because no one can concentrate to get any work done. And we're pretty sure the rules to make the open office work better are not working.
#6 Only Forward, Never Backward
I drive valet. The company handbook says you're never allowed to back up. Ever. You absolutely cannot do the job without reverse. It's impossible. It's in there because of liability and our insurance policy. This way, it can always be the valet's fault if an accident occurs ever. The rule only exists to cover the company's behind, but if they don't feel threatened by you working there and you're an asset, you still will not be fired.
#7 The Toilet Paper Queen
All the extra toilet paper in the building has to stay in a single closet where it can be overseen by the toilet paper queen. I heard her shrieking the other day when she discovered someone had "hoarded" one spare roll of toilet paper upstairs so the people who work upstairs wouldn't have to walk down multiple flights of stairs when the toilet paper ran out.
#8 The Kitchen Dictator
We had a spoon and milk queen who governed all the spoons and milk for my office. She would go round desks and hound people for spoons. People brought their own spoons in so they wouldn't have to deal with her. But she didn't understand that people could bring stuff in from home and was adamant that they must belong to the company. She'd get angry if you opposed her spoon reclamation mission... She also redesigned our kitchen. In her grand re-design, she left out a cutlery drawer... But we have a triple-height pots and pans drawer, so that's something.
#9 Pretending To Work Is Harder
A rule that said: "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean," which fairly obviously meant if there was no work then you should be cleaning things. It was at an aircraft servicing station that was fairly small, but we needed a crew of at least three people for larger planes. The problem was that sometimes there were just no planes, so there was no work. We would clean for a couple of hours and then just run out of stuff to clean, but according to management, that was no good—we had to be busy! It got to be that we would fight for work when it came in because everyone was so bored, and pretending was much, much harder than just working.
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#10 Timed Washroom Breaks
I used to work for Amazon in Ireland and their toilet breaks were crazy. Employees had a maximum of 10 minutes a day but also a max of 20 minutes per week. You had to change the status online so everything was recorded and some managers would call you out on it. I had an understanding with my manager and told him that if I need to go #2, then I'd go for it. Like any good manager, he just told me that as long as I gave him the numbers he wanted, then I could do what I wanted.
#11 Different Company Policies
Former job: There was trouble when I (officially) moved desks and my new desk had a phone with call display. Apparently call display phones were allowed for people at a certain pay level. Your pay level also governed the height of your cubicle walls. My manager's solution was to promote me. Another former job: We were mandated to work on an engineering-related research project outside of work hours because a responsible engineer always gives back to the engineering community. I could live with that. However, your project had to be related to the company's business.
#12 A Non-Solution
There was an issue where there was too much 'socializing' going on on the factory floor, particularly when people were working while sitting down. So, they made everybody stand. When that presented ergonomics problems, they brought in these weird chairs that made you sit at a slant. The chairs had no backs and no wheels either, so they wouldn't cause "distractions."
#13 Pet Salon Problems
At my old job as a pet bather at a pet chain, we had a stool in the salon to sit at while using the computer, and I had a personal step stool for sitting while brushing large dogs on the floor. The cashiers next door complained that they weren't able to sit, yet we were, so all stools were ordered out of the salon. I thus had to kneel, squat or sit on the floor to brush every dog over 75 lbs (you try convincing a Labrador that the short table that goes up into the air is safe for a dog his size).
#14 "Problem" Is A Bad Word
My workplace doesn't let you use the word "problems." Instead, we have to say "challenges" if something is wrong. That's because "problem" is a negative word, while "challenges" promotes the fact that there is room to fix and improve on a problem. It's as if my boss was like, "I don't understand the definition of 'problem' so nobody is allowed to use the word." Stupid.
#15 No Cake Means Bad News
I don't know if it's standard, but I worked at a place where HR wasn't allowed to tell us if someone was fired. It was a big enough place that you might not immediately realize someone had left and, when you found out, you weren't supposed to ask why. So, if you wanted to know if they were fired, you asked, "Was there cake?" Which was to say that, if the person had retired or left pleasantly after a number of years, they would be given a party with cake. If they were fired, not so much.
#16 Dangerous Dumbells
Fireman here. Our Risk Management department decided long ago that poles were too risky for us. So we use the stairs, even though we have perfectly safe poles. Anyway, now the newest rule is no free weights.... as in, NO free weights to work out and stay fit with. Go into burning high rise: absolutely. Walk around the station carrying 40-lb dumbells: too risky.
#17 The Rules Of Tardiness
If you are one minute late, you are tardy. If you take a half-day, nothing goes on your record. I was told to just take a half-day if I was going to be late because they straight-up fired people for tardies. Also, if you clock out early, it counts as a tardy. If you have to go to the doctor's on lunch break and it is going to take and hour, you can take the rest of the day off. Weird.
#18 Alone In This Fight
I used to work at a place where my boss implemented a rule that allowed no more than two glasses of water a day. What a jerk. I ignored this rule and complained directly to our CEO. The matter ended later that day. What was weird though was that the majority of people actually followed the rule and some even shopped me up to HR about "breaking the rules." I left not long after that because not only was my boss a bellend, but if my colleagues were going to hound me over drinking water, then I obviously couldn't trust them.
#19 One Song Only
I used to work at a warehouse. Our stations were pretty far apart, so when we'd listen to music we'd all usually have our own stuff playing. Not a problem since you could barely hear anyone else's music. Well, the CEO didn't like hearing multiple songs when walking through the warehouse. He made a rule that we all either had to listen to the same music or none at all.
#20 Unavoidable Chipper Mornings
Many years ago I was a vacuum cleaner salesman. There were songs about this particular brand of a vacuum cleaner and how awesome it was. Every morning, we had to sing these songs as a group. In fairness, it was a pretty quality item.
#21 No Left Turn
Once, I worked at a place where some mini-boss decided that, since UPS trucks don't turn left, we shouldn't either. I don't know or care how well that worked out for UPS, but this was an ambulance company with a 911 contract. I will turn left if and when I freaking need to turn left.
#22 Natural Hair, Please
I worked as a call receiver. We NEVER saw a customer. We were only on the phones with them. The rule: All employees must only have a natural color. I dyed my hair the same exact color that someone from a different shift had and I was reprimanded. I told them that if the rule is not enforced for everyone, they couldn't single me out. Their reasoning for letting the other person have that color but not me? Mine was my real hair, dyed an 'unnatural' color; hers was a weave that could be changed very easily.
#23 The Popcorn Document
My agency has a nine-page document detailing how, where and when someone can make and consume microwave popcorn. Nine pages.
#24 Tossed Out On Her Hiney
My dad told me this one a while back. He used to work for a PR firm... The way he described the office environment, think "The Office" but in the 1980s. The company hired a "Corporate Efficiency Specialist" to come in and "improve" things. She came in and implemented all kinds of rules, which seemed to follow some sort of caste system. Her philosophy was, the higher your office rank, the more "perks" you get...
Her idea of perks:
The number of pictures you are allowed in your cubicle.
Whether you are allowed to have a potted plant or not.
Coffee mugs were only allowed to senior employees. Others had to use paper cups.
Being allowed to leave the office for lunch was also considered a "perk."
Needless to say, a coup soon followed, and she was tossed out on her hiney.
#25 The Red Stapler Reprimand
My old workplace had assigned desk for various things like the phone and stapler. You were also only allowed two personal items on your desk at any given time. I was written up because I brought my own red stapler and it didn't fit in between the lines put on the desk.
#26 The Swearing Debate
At my old job, HR held a meeting to tell us that there was too much swearing on the sales floor. Someone raised their hand and pointed out that swearing is very common in our industry and that is the way that our customers speak. HR later sent out a memo explaining that swearing should be limited to conversations with clients. It was amazing.
#27 No Calls, No Texts, Just Email
If you are stuck in traffic on the way to work, you must email the CEO. Phone calls and texts are not permitted... just email. Ha. If I am stuck in traffic, so is half of the office. We don't even bother to call. They look around, half the office is missing... Oh, must be traffic. I live in a big metro area. It can take me 30 minutes or two hours to drive 20 miles to work. You can never tell beforehand. I average it for an hour commute Anything over that is not my fault. And I do not start early if I get there early.
#28 Friday Is Hawaiian Shirt Day
It's not like this anymore, but for a while, they attempted to have a dress code. Guys had to wear collared shirts, but "Hawaiian" style shirts were totally acceptable. You could not wear jean shorts, but jean overall shorts were okay. I got sent home one day because my shorts weren't finger-tip length. We were tech support... no one EVER saw us, that was the best part.
#29 Watched Like A Hawk
At my old place of work, our bathroom breaks were deducted from our allotted 15-minute breaks or lunch. We had to go see the office manager to get a key to open the restroom. As soon as we left his office, he would start a timer... when you got back, he would stop the timer and tell you how much time you needed to deduct from your lunch or next break. They watched our breaks like a hawk.
Also, if you made a mistake, they would stand over you and time you while you fixed it and deduct that from your lunch or breaks. You couldn't bring anything that "smelled" for lunch and they had no way of heating anything up. I worked out my contract and split.
#30 Post-It War: Abolished
Our workplace started a friendly post-it war with the office across the street that went on for about half a day. Honestly, all of the pictures were safe... just Samus, Mario, emojis, super basic stuff. The pieces were getting pretty good too and it was clear both offices were having a blast thinking of the next, fun design. Our CEO walked by around 4 p.m. that day, saw the post-it art, and asked what it was. We exclaimed, "Oh, just a post-it war with that office! Would you like to join us in the next mural?"
She said she didn't get it. She didn't get the concept of the post-it war. So, we spent a few minutes trying to explain what it was about—you create art out of post-it notes, and whoever has the best mural wins. Pretty simple stuff. She kind of laughed it off, but it was clear to all of us that she still didn't quite understand why someone would do it. What a silly millennial thing, she must have thought.
The next morning, an office memo was on every desk saying that no one was allowed to put post-its on windows. We had to take all of our art down. When we asked the office manager what we did wrong, she explained that the CEO quite literally still didn't understand it and banned post-its for that reason.
#31 No Personalization Allowed
We can't personalize our workspace. There are no nameplates on anyone's workstation either. No pictures, no mementos, nothing but work stuff. It is bad enough we are jammed into an open floor plan and have to spend many hours at our desks, but then to deny us the ability to make it more enjoyable? Petty.
#32 Exerting Control
The VP of our company just held a mass meeting to tell all of us we can't have pictures, plants, food, or any form of non-office supplied object on our desk. Tons of coworkers have family pictures or their kids' finger paintings pinned up on the cubicle walls. All that has to be removed. People were super upset.
#33 So Redundant
We have to do all of our paperwork at least three times. There is a copy of it in our personal folders, a copy online, and a copy in our store folders. Not only does it waste time and paper, but forgetting to do one has gotten people fired. They did the other two identical pieces of paperwork confirming that yes, they did take out the trash and yes, they did check the store voicemail, but how dare they forget to do the third piece of identical paperwork. Our weekly visits from corporate revolve around whether or not we've all done this paperwork. It's so redundant.
At my previous job, we were given a tablet and a locker. We had to look for a desk to sit every morning as well. It was stupid and caused unnecessary friction. Many people occupied the same desks every day anyway—they piled junks on their desk so no one else dared to sit. Once, my manager had a mental breakdown. He hid on another floor, away from us. It was ridiculous having to walk that far to get to him multiple times a day.
#35 Gossip Control
Former job at a law office: One of the partners sent an email to the entire staff that employees were not allowed to gossip in the building. What was everyone gossiping about, you ask? Oh, said partner was divorcing his wife and sleeping with one of the associate attorneys in the firm. But, you know, don't gossip.
#36 Woodshop Woes
I'm a teacher, so I have a million stupid rules I have to follow. But the worst one is that my performance evaluation is based on student improvement on the STAR literacy test. I teach woodshop.
#37 The "Water Cooler Club"
I work for the federal government so there are tons and tons of rules, and most of them are there for good reasons. The one I really hate, though, is that we have to pay to join the "water cooler club" to use the water cooler. It's like $30 every month or two. Like, I get it. Taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for extravagant purchases and there are certain perks you get in the private sector that you don't get in the public sector (and vice versa). I just don't think it's the height of decadence to want decent water. They say we can just use the fountains, but the fountains are disgusting.
#38 A Short Loophole
The dress code policy is just dumb at my work. Different positions have different requirements, even though we all work in the same office. My favorite rule though is the one on shorts. We can wear shorts on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. However, the shorts can't have pockets on the side. It was written to discourage ratty cargo shorts. But the way in which it is written allows me to wear gym shorts. So I do.
#39 Not Really Unlimited
We got a new vacation policy where you could take UNLIMITED time off. When he announced it, he looked like the biggest jerk ever, all the while he assured us that if we wanted a vacation, we should take it. Really! A little bit afterward, he changed it to "discretionary" time off, meaning that if your boss approved it, it was okay. Then it changed to "160 hours is the max, and if you go over 200 hours, then you probably don't need to work here."
#40 No Empathy
When I was in the military I saw a buddy of mine sitting outside crying. I went over to him and consoled him as best as I could. Apparently, he was just depressed and unhappy. After he was feeling a bit better, I went to go and find someone to tell them what was happening. They knew. In fact, he had been crying so much lately that they had instituted a "no crying at your desk" policy... which is why he was outside.
#41 The Desk Is For Work Only
At my former job, you couldn't eat at your desk. The team managers, however, were pretty tolerant—on a hot day, they would sometimes even hand out popsicles. The regulation people (who were especially in charge on the weekends, when no team managers were around) were very strict with this. A colleague of mine was shouted at because she ate a small pretzel, which was her breakfast. Not only did they embarrass her by making a scene in front of everybody, but they also wrote her up for the incident. She had never done anything wrong during her entire time at this job. Yet, she ended up crying and leaving because of the stress. Then again, some colleagues would casually eat a whole pizza or kebab while making a huge mess.
#42 Hypocrisy At Its Finest
At my last workplace, we had to pay fifty cents to use a K-Cup. It was an office. They also had a 'no websites or YouTube' policy and they policed us using the security cameras. We'd get messages if they noticed us on a site. It was a well-known fact that the manager watched Netflix in his office and played World of Warcraft while watching the security cameras... to make sure people weren't slacking.
#43 Playing It Too Safe
We got Keurig for our break room. Our boss removed the part of it that you use the K-cups for because it had a needle in it, which is what pierced the k-cup. Her reasoning is that she was afraid someone might poke their finger with it. We worked in a blood donation center. We were all phlebotomists. She didn't see the irony.
#44 Scotch Tape Ban
No scotch tape. On anything. I was a teacher, and the principal wouldn't allow it in the building, threatening letters in your file for insubordination if she saw it on your desk. Only painter's tape, which by design, is meant to not stick very well. I hung posters in my room with circles of duct tape on the backside, with strips of painters tape on the front side just for show. Subtle, petty insubordination.
#45 The Truth About Amazon
Amazon is really crazy with their "productivity" rules. Some people put up with it because for certain sectors having Amazon on your resume is a huge plus, but others sadly because they don't have any other job prospects.