Dumb Workplace Rules From Around the World

Dumb Workplace Rules From Around the World


Rules are made to be broken, especially when the rules are absolutely nonsensical. Here are some real life workplace rules that never made any sense, as told by the workers who endured them.

Only Swear at Customers


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. Story credit: Reddit / redemption_songs

Traffic Violation


If you are stuck in traffic on the way to work, you must email the CEO. Phone calls and texts are not permitted, only email. Story credit: Reddit / gshell



I used to work at a place in which my boss implemented a no more than 2 glasses a day water policy. 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 jerk, but if my colleagues were going to HR over me drinking water, then I obviously couldn't trust them. Story credit: Reddit / X0AN

Clock Watching


Had a workplace time our bathroom breaks and deduct them 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 smells" for lunch and they had no way of heating anything up. I worked out my contract and split. Story credit: Reddit / jamaidens


Suit Up


Business casual dress code even when i work at home. (They skype me to check). Story credit: Reddit / McNuggetsB

Forbidden Art


The VP of our company just held a mass meeting to tell all of us we can't have pictures or plants or 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. Story credit: Reddit / Anvirel

Coffee Mugs Are For Closers


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 1980's.

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: 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. Story credit: Reddit / fedupwithpeople

Comfy and Easy to Wear


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. Story credit: Reddit / bondsman333

No Left Turns


Once worked at a place where some miniboss decided that since UPS trucks don't turn left, we shouldn't either.

I don't know if UPS trucks turn left or not or if that is beneficial for them or not, and frankly I don't care. The point is that miniboss thought they did, and that was the reasoning he gave.

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 need to turn left. Story credit: Reddit / Monkeytuesday

No Making Friends!


Not my current job but I used to work for some crazy people.

  • you had to stand in a specific area while eating so they could see you on the camera
  • don't talk to customers longer than 3 minutes unless you're making a big sale, even then, keep it short
  • answer the phone within 2 rings, keep the conversation to less than 30 seconds
  • you can't talk to your co workers outside of work
  • you can't talk to your co workers while at work, even if there was not a single customer in the store

I'm sure there's more I just can't think of right now. Story credit: Reddit / JennLegend3




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. Story credit: Reddit / Historiun

Vacation Time Backfire


We got a new vacation policy where you could take UNLIMITED time off. When he announced it, we looked at the big boss like he had gone mad; all the while he assured us that if we wanted vacation, to take it. Really!

A little bit afterward, he changed it to "discretionary" time off meaning that if your boss approved it, it was ok. Then it changed to "160 hours should be the max and if you go over 200 hours then you probably don't need to work here." Story credit: Reddit / rando_schmuck

To Whom it May Concern


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. Story credit: Reddit / NicolasCage4eva

Long Weekend


If you had to take a leave on monday or friday so that you have an extended weekend of 3 days instead of 2, it was counted as 3 days leave (counting in saturday and sunday). Deal with that! Story credit: Reddit / drvinaymuc

Bonus Time Off


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. Story credit: Reddit / Whosyabobby

Health and Safety


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. Story credit: Reddit / Haligan74


Warmth Comes Out of Your Pay


We aren't allowed to wear jackets unless they are purchased from the resort gift shop with the hotel name logo on it. They are $50+ and we don't get reimbursed, but it's the price you pay to stay warm in the cold months. Story credit: Reddit / PhantomTaco84

Arbitrary Promotion


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. Story credit: Reddit / khendron

Always Give Back... To The Company


We were mandated to work on a 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. Story credit: Reddit / khendron

In Triplicate


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. Story credit: Reddit / quartpint

Huston, We Have a Challenge


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… Story credit: Reddit / throwaWaY2113232444



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. Story credit: Reddit / rhino43grr


Better Never Than Late


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. Story credit: Reddit / SSmtb

Clearly The Song Worked


Many years ago I was a vacuum cleaner salesman. There were songs about this particular brand of 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. Story credit: Reddit / Im_A_Boozehound

Sadness is Forbidden


When I was in the military I saw a buddy of mine sitting outside crying. I went and consoled him 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. Story credit: Reddit / TypewriterKey

Vacation Complexity


If we want to take a full 5 day week off we need to use 2 vacation days, 1 personal, and 2 more vacation days. Can never use 3 vacation days straight!?!? Story credit: Reddit / icecreampopncereal

Hands Where We Can See 'Em


Can't have my hands in my pockets. Story credit: Reddit / themikegman

Ever Moving Forward


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. Story credit: Reddit / ImJustSo

Make It Look Like An Accident


We can't ask others if they want to come grab a coffee in the break room. Story credit: Reddit / AlkorCineast

Literal Witch Hunt


No accusing other staff members of being witches. (Yeah, it happened so we had to make a rule. I run a hostel in Uganda.) Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Finger-Tip Length


It's not like this any more, 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 ok.

I got sent home one day because my shorts weren't finger-tip length. 'Finger-tip length' meant standing with your arms at your sides, and your shorts had to be longer than where your fingertips ended. Think grade-school rules.

We were tech support... no one EVER saw us, that was the best part. Story credit: Reddit / FuffyKitty



I worked as a call receiver. We NEVER saw a customer. We were only on the phones with them. Rule: Your hair must only be a natural color. I dyed my hair the same exact color that someone from a different shift had. 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.

Really?! Then why hasn't she been asked to change her hair? They gave up trying to convince me they were in the right. Story credit: Reddit / krystyana420

On Call


I work in retail and we have "on call" shifts. Your name will be listed on the schedule for a certain time as a call-in, so you have to call one hour before your shift to figure out if they need you to work for the day.

For example, you would be listed as "on call for 2pm" and wouldn't know until 1pm if you were working that evening. If you don't call in, it's considered "not showing up for a shift," but there's no extra pay for the shift whether they need you or not.

So for three days of the week, I don't know if I have to work or not. Can't make any solid plans to do anything except call my work and ask if they need me.

I can't imagine having children or elderly that need taking care of because it would be such a hassle to arrange care for them just an hour before having to work. Story credit: Reddit / broimgay

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?


What you can get at cafeteria's salad bar: TWO cherry tomatoes TWO baby corns THREE broccolis. Cafeteria workers will legit come after you, if you take more than this. Story credit: Reddit / aiueo6

Was There Cake?


I don't know if it's standard, but I worked at a place where HR wasn't allow 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.

"I haven't seen Brian for some time." "Brian no longer works here." ..."Was there cake?" Story credit: Reddit / notsofastandy

Duct Tape Bandages


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. Story credit: Reddit / staydizzycauseilike

Where Do I Put My Stuff?!


A new highly encouraged "suggestion" at my job is no drawers in your work area. Story credit: Reddit / NicknamePeyote

The Spoon Queen


We had 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 and got angry if you opposed her spoon reclamation mission.....

She also redesigned our kitchen. In her grand redesign she left out a cutlery drawer...... But we have a triple height pots/pans drawer so that's something. Although no cooker or pots/pans so it's completely empty.

Thankfully she was let go. Story credit: Reddit / QuietImpact699

Forever Busy


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. Story credit: Reddit / 727Super27

Jeff Bezos' Pharmacy


No lunch/bathroom break in a 12 hour shift. Retail pharmacist here: I eat/pee on the run. Story credit: Reddit / bom_chika_wah_wah



Empty inbox

My boss was an inbox hound, 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. Story credit: Reddit / sheriffjbunnell

Next to Godliness


Not current job but at my last job at a store/cafe, an unspoken rule, as in me and my manager were never told this by our boss, was that we were not allowed to let a health inspector see anything that they come to inspect while still getting a good grade.

We followed health and safety laws but our bosses didn't (we were one of the smaller stores/cafes in this chain of 20+ stores and cafes).

The health inspector must have realised that it was the companies fault for all the health and safety breaches because we (the staff) were given near full marks on the staffs health and safety responsibilities but the boss's responsibilities was a different story.

No fly killer in store (despite them being attracted by our bakery part and us having a fly killer out back for over a month but no one was ever sent to install it), no mouse/rat traps, only one sink (law requires 2, one for hands and one for dishes), no hot water,

The counter were we put coffee down wasn't nailed down and we actually had a customer attempt to sue over a spilt coffee, some of our bakery was expired but we were made to put it out because according to our companies Food manager, "they looked ok so they must be ok." The list goes on.

Our manager ended up showing the health inspector months of emails and texts and watsapp messages informing the bosses of these health and safety breaches and asking them to be fixed, all of which were promptly ignored.

Later that day our boss calls and screams over the phone at my manager, tells him that its all our fault and its our job to make sure the health inspector never finds out about all that.

Over the next week she comes in every single day where she just watches us work from the office on the security cameras and gives out at us for every little thing and makes a massive deal over everything,

Like for example, I had a mini-sneezing fit one of those days and was yelled at, in front of customers because I was going to "infect everyone and all our food. "

Glad to be out of that hellhole, last I heard a few of the stores she manages (4-5 store managers quit all in one week while she was on holidays. so she took over managing those stores) are failing with massive sales drops and mass employee quitting ever since she took over them.

Hope to God she loses her job. Story credit: Reddit / christopher1393

Getting to the Point


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 poke their finger with it. We worked in a blood donation center.

We were all phlebotomists. She didn't see the irony. Story credit: Reddit / jenroberts

Sticking With You


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 back side, with strips of painters tape on the front side just for show. Subtle, petty insubordination. Story credit: Reddit / johndoenumber2

Crystal Clear


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 glass building. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]



All recreational activity is forbidden on company time & resources... Except fantasy football. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Bland World


We can't personalize our work space. 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. Story credit: Reddit / Negativefalsehoods

All Natural


I had a boss who didn't like the outrageous color I had in my hair. I'm a natural red head. Story credit: Reddit / CrotchWolf

The Late Volunteer


My job years ago tried to implement a very strict attendance policy, where if you were one second late you would get written up.

Till one Saturday a guy who had worked there for like 30 years shows up to work 30 seconds late. They pull him into the office and write him up. He then gets up and tells them he's going home. Working Saturdays was voluntary and he basically said I don't have to be here today so I'm going home.

He was doing them a favor by working that day but when they wrote him up for being 30 seconds late he basically left them hanging by just going home. That policy didn't last too much longer. Story credit: Reddit / Strid3r21

Book Smart


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 wood shop. Story credit: Reddit / CoolioDaggett

The Boss


So, there's a culture at my office, fostered by our boss, that absolutely everyone hates. "My boss is OBSESSED with hounding late employees. If someone's late for 10 minutes, they'll get it cut from their paycheck as a half-day." Yes, it's as brutal as it sounds.

We recently got a new hire, Tom. On his first day, he came in 3 minutes late. Oh boy, did he get a taste of the boss's wrath!
"BOSS: I didn't hire you to be lazy!
NEW HIRE: Sorry sir, I got stuck in traffic.
BOSS: Inside my office. NOW!
(He was there for 45 minutes)"

The next day something strange happened. We all clocked in, but the boss was nowhere to be found. Everyone was anxious and confused. What was going on? An hour passed, then two. "The next day, our boss was nowhere to be found."

As we were scratching our heads, we saw Tom smirking in the corner. As our curiosity peaked, he finally explained. Turns out, Tom's dad owned the company. He had been sent undercover to understand the employee experience. Seeing the grin spread on his face made us all laugh. "We watched as a sly grin spread from our new hire's face."

The next week, the 'boss' was demoted to a junior position, and Tom took over as the manager. His first order of business? Implementing a more reasonable late policy, of course!

The Casual Retribution


Working from home had its perks. No commute, relaxed atmosphere, and most importantly, the freedom to ditch the stiff corporate attire. One day, however, during a video call, my boss caught a glimpse of my casual attire. She went BALLISTIC when she learned I was wearing casual clothes during work hours. I was incredulous. After all, I worked at home! When I told her so, she snapped back with an absurd ultimatum, 'Suit up, or quit if you don't like it.' The ridiculousness of it all made my decision easy. I quit!

A week later, I returned to the office to collect my final paycheck and clear out my desk. The familiar stern face of the security guard broke into an unexpected smile as I approached the office. To my utter shock, the guard rushed forward and HUGGED me. 'What the hell are you doing??' I asked, stunned. With a gleeful smirk, he replied, 'It's all thanks to you! You didn't know?!' Confused, I asked, 'Huh? What did I do?' He merely pointed towards my ex-boss's office and told me, '(points to my ex-boss's office) Just go inside, and you'll find out.' The guarded excitement in his voice filled me with dread, but also curiosity. As I pushed open the door to my ex-boss's office, I was met with a sight that made my blood run cold.

The Thirsty Retribution


One day at work, I was summoned to the HR office out of the blue. The HR manager, looking stern and severe, said to me, 'You're FIRED!!' Bewildered, I asked, 'What did I do??' The answer was as absurd as it was unexpected, 'You drank more than 2 glasses of water during work.' I was incredulous, WHAT!?' But the HR just shrugged, 'Sorry. New policy.' I was so taken aback by this ridiculous rule that all I could do was snap, 'Fine!! But you will regret this.'

Fast forward two weeks later, I was jolted awake by the sound of frantic knocking on my front door. It was still early morning and through the peephole, I saw the face of the HR manager who had fired me, drenched in tears. She was begging me, 'We need you back. ASAP!' Turns out, after I left, half of the office had protested the ludicrous new policy by going on a strike, refusing to work unless the rule was abolished and I was re-hired. It was a nightmare for the company, and they were on the brink of losing some significant clients due to the delay in deliverables. A rule that was implemented to 'boost productivity' was ironically, wreaking havoc on the company's operations.