We’ve all heard the entertaining stories of employees who got fired from their jobs for the most ridiculous reasons. Of course, what seems shocking to some appears perfectly sensible to others, otherwise those employees would still have jobs. But there can be no terminations without rules to be broken, and where there are ridiculous firings, there are usually ridiculous rules. A code of conduct is a necessity in any workplace, for without it, there would be no delineation between productivity and anarchy (as evidenced by the movie The Wolf of Wall Street). Nevertheless, in their effort to protect the company, achieve personal goals, or sometimes for no apparent reason, some employers instill rules that cross the line. Let’s look at a few examples.
1. Kissing the boss
How would you feel if you were required to kiss your boss every morning before starting work? Such is the case with a company that sells home-brewing equipment in Beijing, China. Apparently, each morning, female employees are required to line up and kiss their boss before starting their shifts. The head of the company claims it enhances corporate culture, boosts employee morale and fosters a closer bond between employees and their superior. Not surprisingly, this rule has been causing quite an uproar on social media, with photos of the daily routine going viral. While the company claims the women haven’t complained, other sources say differently. According to Shanghaiist, “While the women were initially reluctant to attend the morning ceremony, almost all of them have since given in to their boss’ demand. Only two female staff members absolutely refused to kiss their boss and resigned from the company.”
2. Timed bathroom breaks
Remember in elementary school when bathroom breaks were timed? This is also the reality that call center employees in Norway experience. Thanks to a new hi-tech surveillance system, workers at a Norwegian insurance company have exactly eight minutes of restroom time before an alarm sounds, accompanied by flashing lights. This alerts management that the offending employee is away from his or her desk beyond the allotted time. Employers claim the reason for the time limit is to avoid leaving call center phones unattended. However, unions and workplace inspectors have called the practice “highly intrusive” and a potential breach of employees’ human rights. This isn’t the first time a Norwegian company has been reprimanded for its overbearing bathroom rules. Recently, another company made employees sign a “visitor’s book” before using the restroom, while a third employer issued workers an electronic key card to gain access to the toilet so they could monitor breaks.
3. No pointing
Disney may be home to the Enchanted Kingdom, but according to Guff, they’re well known for imposing some unique and stringent rules upon their employees. For example, pointing is forbidden. When employees are asked for directions, they are required to point with two fingers or their whole hand. Because pointing with one finger is considered offensive in some cultures, Disney rule makers don’t want to risk offending their international guests. Another unique rule is the requirement that employees pick up trash if they see it on the ground. However, they are not allowed to bend over, but must pick it up in a “scooping” motion. Finally, you’ll never hear a Disney employee say “I don’t know.” If they’re asked a question they don’t know the answer to, they must find a phone and call an operator.
4. No pyjamas
Ever wish you could wear your pyjamas to an interview? Apparently in Ireland, too many people did, causing the need for banning the practice. Damastown social welfare office in Dublin banned interviewees from wearing pyjamas, posting a notice stating “pyjamas are not regarded as appropriate attire when attending Community Welfare Service at these offices.” Surprisingly, this is just the latest in a string of pyjama bans, including schools in Belfast, Ireland and Middlesborough, England, a store in Cardiff, Wales and attempts at a city-wide ban in Caddo Parish, Louisiana after the parish’s commissioner was offended by a pyjama-clad individual at a local Walmart.
5. Public spankings
Apart from termination, what’s the worst that can really happen to you for not excelling at your job? How about a public spanking followed by having your head shaved? According to online reports by the BBC, this is what happened at Changzhi Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank in northern China. During a recent training session for 200 employees, eight were singled out for receiving low scores in a training exercise. The trainer then subjected the eight employees to four rounds of spankings with a stick, followed by shaving the men’s heads and cutting the women’s hair. While the trainer was not a bank employee, the bank’s chairman and deputy governor were suspended for failing to check the content of the course. While the trainer issued an apology, it only added to the online outrage the incident caused, as many felt the apology was directed toward the bank’s executives and not its employees.
A few years ago when Reddit posed the question, “What is the dumbest rule your school or workplace has actually enforced?” it brought to light a wealth of ridiculous responses. No water bottles, no emails without a purpose, no turning things off, no carrying boxes, no cell phone-shaped objects, no saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes – these are just a few of the beauties keeping workplaces safe from inherent evil. I’m sure every company has a rule or two that its employees could do without. But when looking at the extreme examples cited above, the majority of us can leave the office taking comfort in the fact that we really don’t have it so bad.