21 People Share The Most Mindblowingly Dumb Rules At Their Workplace

When you’re at work, you have to be professional and follow the rules. Everyone knows that, and for the most part, it’s not a big deal.

Of course, sometimes the office decides to throw a completely arbitrary or idiotic rule at you with no explanation. “Sorry,” your boss will say, “You can only take time off if you request it from the Talisman of Dingle Gorge a couple years in advance.” Then you have to keep your cool and try not to scream or quit on the spot.

It’s a pretty common experience apparently. This thread on Reddit asked people to share their workplace’s dumbest rules, and the examples people have are pretty idiotic.

1. From yeesh_kabab

In theory we are allotted 3 personal absences a year – which cover “unforeseen circumstances” like a family emergency, car troubles, sick kid, etc. But in order to be approved you need to get consent from the manager in advance. No one that I know has ever actually been approved in advance for their unforeseen emergency.

2. From NicolasCage4eva

I once needed a pen. Figured this was a reasonable ask. Went to the supply closet on my floor, which was locked. Asked the floor’s admin, she told me to go to the main supply room in the basement. Went to the basement and explained my situation of needing a pen. They told me all requests for supplies must be approved by my department head. Problem is, 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.

3. From TheSpanishImposition

All recreational activity is forbidden on company time & resources… Except fantasy football.

4. From goatsofwrath

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 big ass glass building.


5. From willboase

No accusing other staff members of being witches. (Yeah, it happened so we had to make a rule. I run a hostel in Uganda.)

6. From Jimmy_Reese1984

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.

7. From AlkorCineast

We can’t ask others if they want to come grab a coffee in the break room.

8. From staydizzycauseilike

We have a lock on the first aid kits. So if you just need a band aid for a cut, you have to get the key from the Safety guy. Which in turn makes it a ” reportable accident” with mountains of paperwork and investigations. We use an unbelievable amount of duct tape now.

9. From ImJustSo

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 valets fault if an accident occurs ever.

Edit: Perhaps this will answer the most repeated question… If the rule says no reverse, yet you’re expected to park a car, then how can you park the car?

Answer: Never hit anything, and always reverse despite the rules. Expect to be fired should you hit anything in reverse, but probably not. The rule only exists to cover the company’s ass, but if they don’t feel threatened by you working there and you’re an asset, you still will not be fired. And yes, many people are questioning the legality of it and you’re right. It wouldn’t hold up in courts, but it’s in the handbook and it’s silly. So I posted it.

10. From 1136991040443

I used to own a pest control company. One day I walked into one of our bays and found a technician licking the inside of a cap from a bottle of herbicide. When asked he told me that he just wanted to know how it tastes. I told him that any future pesticides will taste like unemployment and created a no ingesting pesticide rule complete with signs.

11. From rhino43grr

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.

EDIT: It’s the cheapest, 1-ply toilet paper available on the giant rolls that only fit in the special dispensers. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to steal it.

12. From 727Super27

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 3 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 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 over work when it came in because everyone was so bored, and finding pretend busy work was much much harder then just working.

I remember getting the crew together to pick up pebbles off the taxiway for a couple hours. There’s an old joke in aviation “go sweep the taxiway!” so we actually did it.

13. From a_dead_man

I used to work for [a huge online company] in Ireland and their toilet breaks were crazy. Maximum of 10 minutes a day but also a max of 20 minutes per week. You had to change the status on your computer so everything was recorded and some managers would call you out on it and even go as far as threaten your job.

I had an understanding with my manager and told him if i need to take a shit then im going for it. Like any good manager he just told me that as long as i give him the numbers he wants then i could do what i want.

Edit: this has seriously blown up so i thought i had to add that i was treated with great respect while working there and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I cant speak for other employees in the business but i have heard the stories.

Incidentally i now work in construction where someone isn’t looking over your shoulder and checking every minute of every day. If you haven’t seen the great movie office space, watch it. Describes my situation perfectly.

14. From sheriffjbunnell

Empty inbox

My boss was an inbox Nazi, like if you had old emails in there he would flip and make you respond to them or delete them. Apparently you shouldn’t have anything left at the end of the day, deal with them or delete them.

Jokes on him though, I just made a subfolder marked “personal” and everything went in there

Get fucked Bill you old wanker

15. From SSmtb

I used to work for the now long defunct books, movies, and music store Media Play. Just one of the 285 reasons that poorly run business ran into the ground was the tardy/attendance policy.

If you were literally :01 seconds late clocking in, even hours before the store opened, it was a really, really big deal. You’d not only be formally written up, but lectured like a child often times berated even. If you were tardy three times, bye-bye. HOWEVER, if you no-showed and then called 2 hours later saying you were sick?—okay, thank you, feel better. This trained everyone to just take a sick day instead of being half a second late to work. I can’t tell you how many times you’d see a coworker screeching into the parking lot before work after fighting traffic from a wreck or whatever, noticing it was 8:01, and then slowly driving off to go home and feign being sick. This was particularly upsetting when it was a pulldown stock week when we needed every hand on deck but had unusually early shifts.

16. From Poison-Song

There was an issue where there was too much ‘socializing’ going on on the factory floor, particularly when people were working while sitting down (false – skewed supervisor perception), so they made everybody stand. When that presented ergonomics problems, they brought in these weird chairs that made you sit at a slant, had no backs, and no wheels, so they wouldn’t cause “distractions.”

No part of it made any sense.

17. From throwaWaY2113232444

My workplace doesn’t let you use the word “problems”. Instead, we have to say “challenges” if something is wrong. As a problem is a negative word, and challenges promotes the fact that there is room to fix said problem…

18. From Haligan74

Fireman…our Risk Management department decided long ago that poles were too risky for us. So we use the stairs. We have poles. Anyway, now the newest rule is no free weights….as in NO free weights to work out, stay fit. Go into burning high rise- absolutely, walk around the station carrying 40lb dumbells…too risky

19. From Whosyabobby

If you are 1 min late it is a tardy. If you take a half day nothing goes on your record. I was told to just take a half day if you are going to be late because they straight up fire you for tardies. Also if you clock out early it is a tardy. If you have to go to the doctor on lunch break and it is going to take and hour and ten min, take the rest of the day off. Weird.

20. From Historiun

Old job of mine in 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 the neighbors 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.

21. From X0AN

I used to work at a place in which my boss implemented a no more than 2 glasses a day water policy.

What a cunt. I ignored this rule and complained directly to our CEO and the matter ended later that day.

What was weird though was 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 hr over me drinking water, then I obviously couldn’t trust them.