Procurement · 21 August 2017

The five most ridiculous workplace rules revealed  

white restroom doors for male and female
Some offices limit workers to three-minute bathroom breaks

Britain’s workplaces have been overburdened with ridiculous or counterproductive rules which workers frequently ignore, new research has shown.

Over a third of UK workplaces have “ridiculous” rules in place, with as many as 22.5 per cent of office workers admitting to feelings of frustration, or that their employers don’t trust them, as a result.

According to a survey from job site CV Library, the city where workers are most likely to experience ridiculous workplace rules was Glasgow in Scotland, where 71 per cent of working spaces were found to have such measures in place.

Cardiff, the Welsh capital, also came high on the list for having ridiculous workplace rules, with 57 per cent of workplaces in the city found to have a culture of ridiculous rules.

Sheffield, Birmingham and London also featured heavily, with ridiculous workplace rules impacting productivity in 46 per cent, 38 per cent and 37 per cent of working spaces respectively.

The survey, which asked the views of more than 1,000 UK staff, also found that 57 per cent of workers would disobey a rule put in place by their employer if they thought it was pointless or “silly”.

Commenting on the statistics, CV Library managing director, Lee Biggins, said that it was important that employers worked hard to make employees feel trusted.

He added: “While one workplace can differ massively to another, you have to treat your staff like adults – especially when it comes to being allowed to drink water and going to the toilet!”

Five ridiculous workplace rules 

The majority of the most ridiculous workplace rules were found to fall roughly into the following five categories. 

(1) Toilet troubles

Many staff reported either having a strict time frame in which to go to the toilet (three minutes in some cases) to having to ask to use toilet facilities. Some are even searched before going to the toilet.

(2) Dress codes

Workers reported having to wear particular coloured clothes to match a business while women were often not allowed to wear trousers.

(3) Silent treatment

Some employees weren’t permitted to talk out loud, apart from when in areas like the staff room. Other workers revealed they weren’t allowed to say hello to a customer, only “good morning”, or “good afternoon”.

(4) Time keeping 

A common practice was for workers to be docked 15 minutes pay if they were found to be late by just a few minutes. One survey respondent claimed they weren’t allowed to travel further than 20 metres away from their office building at lunch time just in case they returned late.

(5) Beverage burdens  

Some workplaces wouldn’t allow staff to drink water, and one would not let workers carry drinks up and down stairs. Another UK company wouldn’t let its employees have drinks on their desks, in case they spilt everywhere.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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