on Sep 28th, 2009 in Labor | 196 comments
Silly Signs, Silly Rules –- Know Any?

Workplace rules exist for a reason. Some rules are designed to protect employees’ rights and their safety, while others protect the employer and workplace. Then there are some rules that are just plain silly, and we ask ourselves why are they even are in place.

Sometimes the best way to find these rules is to ask. Last March, Major General Michael Oates of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division asked for information on the stupidest rules or policies in the Army in his Mountain Sound Off blog. Soldiers commented on everything from uniform regulations to policies on leave. FederalTimes.com borrowed the same idea and asked its readers, “What are the dumbest workplace rules affecting you?”

Since we know you aren’t shy, we thought we’d ask you the same question about the Postal Service. What Postal Service workplace rules are hindering you from doing your job? Are there rules or processes in place that no longer apply or need to be changed to meet today’s business needs? Let us know what you think.

This blog is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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Don't forget, "No talking on the work room floor!"

As usual someone wants to use the workplace as "social hour". It's not that you can not talk on the workroom floor its that you are required to come to work to perform duties you are being paid for and there are time expectations. These expectations are put in place to provide a quality service to the customer and help maintain productivity in the workplace. The Postal Service like many other organizations, agencies and businesses have Policies, Rules and Regulations in place for several reasons; Safety, Efficiency and Productivity just to mention a few. The comment from "Anonymous" sounds like they may be a carrier. The City Carrier has rules to follow while working in the office and on the street. Handbook M-41 City Delivery Carriers Duties and Responsibilities is a manual that outlines their responsibilities. Section 112.25 Be prompt, courteous, and obliging in the performance of duties. Attend quietly and diligently to work and refrain from loud talking and the use of profane language. The key is "Attend quietly and diligently to work and refrain from loud talking" that does not mean you cannot talk. Anyone interested in learning what is required of a carrier should spend a little time researching and reading before jumping to conclusions. All Handbooks and manuals to include the National Contracts can be found on the internet. The rules do not just apply to carriers, but to all Postal Employees. Each craft (carriers, mailhandlers, clerks, management, vehicle maintenance employees, etc) have their own handbooks and nationally negotiated contracts. Bottom line is employees are hired to perform the duties of their position and if their talking and visiting hinders them from completing their assignment in the authorized time it results in later delivery times and cost to the Postal Service. Why is it people are eager to work for an organization and when they get hired they are unhappy with the rules, there are options, comply or find another job.

Only 2 pitcures and a calender , to be hung on case !
Family photo's remind us why we work and come back safely at the end of the day ! How do you pick which 2 children are placed on your case when you have 6 ?
Let's concentrate on building business and cutting costs, not powertripping !

We are not allowed to have any personal items at all at our cases. No calendars or anything.

I'll tell you how I got around this silly rule. I had a picture of Dana Delaney which was deemed offensive. So I took the picture and pasted it on an envelope and mailed it to myself. I said to the offended supervisor, "there dammit, now it is mail." They let me keep it. :)

The case is a work area shared by more than one employee used for the purpose of preparing the mail to be delivered. What may be viewed as important or inspirational to one person may not be for another. No power trip, only an attempt at keeping the workplace free of clutter and avoid offending others. Maybe a group picture of the 6 children together will help, then you only need one photo.

how about that stupid rule that in the plants time cards MUST be in the rack and locked at all times. With todays timekeeping no one could clock someone else in and the supervisor not know.

the information on the time card should be on the employees ID badge like at costco and albertsons to name a few.

so much money could be saved when the supervisor does not unlock the time cards in time and then the supervisor must manually input the employees time.

what is funny about this is that the plant I work in southern Calif just got a new district manager and ordered maintenance to put new time card holders all over the plant. they purchased small bulletin boards and mounted them on a frame at a cost of over $200.00 each. after a week the things are not even locked.

but get caught carrying around your time card and watch out!

Regular rural carriers are salaried employees. Yet, we are required to report at stupid times and are encouraged (required) to work stupid dialy hours. It makes absolutely no difference in my pay if I work 11 hours or 6 hours today. My route is evaluated at 8 hours and 36 minutes and that is all the pay that I am going to get. Upper postal management is fixated on the hours thing. This is one of the most stupid rules that the Postal Service has. Get off rural carrier's backs let us deliver the mail. We used to be effiecient, but now, they want us to be like city carriers. They want us to be slow and inefficient. We were trained to work efficiently, do our jobs as quickly as possible and go home when we are finished. Stupid rules and regulations from upper managers that don't have a clue are costing USPS big bucks and they think that they are right. Stupid!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill is absolutely right-why are they setting later starting times??? Why, why why? The later starting times put us at greater risk of accidents and put children getting out of school at greater risk. We spend more time sitting in traffic and we run into more erratic driving as people rush home from work.There is plenty of mail to work every am-the earlier you can get on the road, the safer your delivery will be. I can only guess that they are trying to increase productivity????, however sitting in traffic and waiting for school buses is not productive. The added stress and danger of watching for kids playing in the street doesn't help. We are salaried folks-and we are always more efficient than any city carrier that has to finger dps on the street(efficient, safe-not). I guess it's just another example of quasi-military bullying management style. No one cares about safety(they care about liability) and no one cares about the people who actually do the job-no surprise

the late start time(at least at my office) are because rural carriers are walking around doing nothig when the mail is not sorted yet. our mail comes at a certain time, clerks come in at certain times, and to follow suit rural and city carries come in at certain times to give clerks time to sort the mail. i am writing this knowing i am going to get flak about lazy clerks so i am prepared for this...bring it on!

I have to agree with the part about some rural and city carriers stand around waiting for mail, but that is only when mail is late. Now you get a few that like to visit and get caught up in their conversation instead of working but that hardly makes any of them "lazy". That is why there are later start times. Both rural and city carriers are at the mercy of the plant. If you don't have mail to work you don't need to be in early. It doesn't make you happy but it comes with your job. The plant may have equipment/machines go down causing them delays, sick calls or late arriving trucks causing them to process the mail late. Each department needs to stop looking at just themselves only being concerned with what they want and try to see the big picture. Every employee effects the operations of the postal service and they should be a team, there is no "I" in TEAM. There are many hardworking Clerks, City and Rural Carriers that want to do a good job for the agency and for the customer so don't loose sight of why you work at the Post Office; after all where else can you get the benefits, pay and opportunities that you get with the Postal Service.

so you wait in the afternoon for school buses instead of waiting in the morning. You run into the morning commute instead of the evening. you have the same hazards in the morning you do in the evening. quit complaining. Most of the time we get paid for evaluated times and work 1 to 2 hours less than those hours. We do not have a supervisor with us all day like most employees. I have a great job as a rural carrier. Whats the big deal about starting 30 minutes later than I would prefer. sounds like the spoiled little rich kids aren't getting their way or enough.

In response to the last two comments, the rural carrier job is probably the best job in the organization(other than the last two pay cuts), however in my office the mail passed out and ready to case at least an hour before we are allowed to start. This is also a high density suburban area-no one has ever gotten out in time to hit am bus or commuter traffic-however that half hour or hour difference in the pm can add significantly to delivery time-try delivering to a suburban strip mall or shopping area at lunch time or after school has let out-ever delivered after dark-extremely hazardous.

The difference in our office is that our dispatch time is 4:30 PM (last truck) and we MUST MAKE DISPATCH in our office. My route is 9hrs. I used to be scheduled for 6:45 AM giving me 9 hrs 15 mins to deliver with a 30 min lunch. Now I start at 7:15 AM giving me 8 hrs 45 mins to deliver with a 30 min lunch. So we are told if you can't make dispatch, don't take a lunch break. And if there is snow, ice, washed out roads or any deviations (like for express mail) MAKE DISPATCH and bring back the rest of the route. I spent 1 hour and then 2 hours in my supervisors office for missing dispatch twice last year, so now my route just can't be delivered. What kind of "Customer Service" is that?
The reason for the time change - the trucks are late, the plant didn't send the mail on the first truck, the plant was late running the DPS so they have to hold the 2nd truck late to wait. But we must remember "The plant is our friend."

Just curious how is it that children are put more at risk getting out of school? Are you saying rural carriers are not safe drivers? I know many rural carriers that take pride in their positions and their responsibility to be safe. Many are actively involved in the safety program at the Postal Service trying to make a difference, you should become a safety captain and make your voice heard within the agency. Unfortunately for some stations they do get their mail later than others and that could be a reason why you don't start as early as you would like. Don't get discouraged, be positive and provide meaningful suggestions that could improve your working conditions.

Oh this one's easy: disallowing single cell casing -- as opposed to bulk casing -- for NDCBU boxes.

You should inspect a carrier with NDCBUs and calculate the difference in delivery times between having their mail bulk cased vs. single cell cased. Delivering an NDCBU one piece at a time (bulk cased) -- as opposed to one address at a time (single cell cased) -- should yield some interesting results. And the difference in office times is negligible.

it creates double-handling and it is a waste of time by having, in essence, to case each piece twice. once in the office and again on the street. i had a high-volume route(it was 50% NDCBU) that we single-celled precisely for that reason and it definitely helped to reduce street time. plus you are better able to manage holds, forwards, vacants, etc.
it should be a no-brainer, but higher-levels know best, not the carrier! yeah, right!

FYI, if you would spend a little time reading about the "higer-levels" you would find most all of them have been a craft employee, be it carrier, clerk or mailhandler. If you think you can make a difference and improve operations you should 204B or promote instead of criticizing the people that are trying to make a difference. Standing at an NDCBU putting mail in a box is alot easier than walking down a street having to do it, adapt, adjust and concur. You can do it.

Today I had to sit in the break room on standby time instead of taking lwop for 15 min????? That doesn't sound like saving money to me!! No good explination as to how this was better for the company either.

without a doubt, that is a "silly" rule, not to mention a waste of money. if an employee is okay with less hours/less money, usps should be grateful.

I'm thinking it's because they don't want that "undertime" of 15 minutes showing to the higher-ups. They'll want to add an hour to your route / the office.

How about the moronic rule about having personal items with us at our cases? I will never forget the time the POOM stopped at my case to tell my I couldn't have any personal items with me. When I asked her what personal items she was referring to, she pointed at a pack of gum, a box of kleenex, and a bag of cough drops. My only reply was "You drove 100 miles to tell me that? No wonder we're going broke."

Your POOM missed his or her calling-it should have been housekeeping. How much does that housekeeping job pay?

LOL RC!!!!!!That was a good laugh!!They should use the no talking rule.. even though the rule is so, so elementary! They should remember that rule, when they come to us with stupid things to say. Orrrr, we should say no talking to Management!

Wow! and you are proud of being disrespectful to the POOM? You really should pay attention to the stand up talks about safety. Check with Homeland Security as to why you cant have personal items on the workroom floor. Use some common sense and put some tissue and cough drops in your pocket and use a locker for the rest of your items.

I think the stupidist thing in our office is the DUVRS. That means that we must keep track of the volume of mail we get. The clerks are already keeping track of the volume. Why do we have to keep track too?!!!

How about the unofficial rule that says you need 6 supervisors for every 10 craft?

we have 7 supervisors for 11 craft,

For blood drives, the rule you must badge out to give blood and then badge back in. In keeping with that rule, we should be required to swipe our time badge to enter a restroom and to leave it.

this is not a bad idea, in a carrier unit there are those carriers who use the restroom as their unofficial "excessive break area" ihave carriers that go three four times inthemornign, jsut to expand theire office time so that they leave the office later, becasue theyu dont have the volume, and dont want to have to carry an undertime bump. so clocking in and out of the restroom in order to capture time wasting practices is a great idea.

Great suggestion!
Tomorrow morning Scan labels will be installed on each toliet stall, We will allow you to wash your hands for free

Probably a good idea.

Window clerks cannot open their cash drawer unless they are making a sale. Window clerks cannot keep more than $100 in their drawer overnight; but we can make customers wait until we find someone with change;Oh, then we can't open our drawer until we make another sale. Window clerks aren't allowed to postmark letters for customers. Mystery shopping "upsell script" Everyone hates this foolishness including supervisors and postmasters. Soon to be a retired SSA.

We postmask customers letters. We open our drawer anytime we need. We have an extra $100 for change. We even tape customers boxes that look like they need a little extra. We have a "take a penny, leave a penny" jar.
Isn't it strange as to how NOT standardized we are?

What gets me with the "Secret Shopper" is I keep getting told McDonald's does it. We are not McDonalds, we do not offer the same products. Nor are our customers at our windows for the same reason. Guess my window clerks should all put on Clown makeup.

Build a new station install five security monitors INSIDE, then keep our dps mail OUTSIDE the building with no cameras, and no employees outside. drive right into the postal parking lot stop and pick up whatever amount of mail you want and drive right out the exit. no cameras, no employees, just easy pickings for thieves
Gotta love the fools in charge!

As city carriers we are not allowed to case dps or occupants which leads to a 2 to 3 bundle system. Soon with FSS rolling out, we will be juggling up to four bundles. All carriers know that a one bundle system is the best way to go.

Agree 100% that this is a stupid, inefficient, and unsafe practice. I am lucky to be a rural carrier with a POV so I have a little more leeway, for now, as to how I process and deliver my mail. It is much safer to have it all together and easy to grab and put in the box than to have to sit at a box, sometimes in VERY heavy, fast moving traffic fumbling through three or four bundles of mail. This practice illustrates just how unconcerned for our safety the post office really is.

Another dumb thing un the P.O. is the hoy case and the 3m case.Heck get rid of the case alltogether. With FSS rolling out we should be fully automated.

All rules that ALL USPS emplyoyees are to go by in the office that management directs us to. Then we watch management be the first ones to break the rules.

I think the PARS system is the dumbest thing that has happened. Carriers are the last person to know of someones move, when they should be the first! And to take away the carriers access to the forwarding information? for security? oh but the clerks can access it, no problem. somehow they are more trustworthy? I have more problems with people not filling out the change of address correctly, and I no longer can help them.

PARS is not a bad system overall in my opinion. I think that where it fails is not giving the carriers access to the COA's. Many times a customer's writing will be illegible. When we used to be the first person to see these COA's, we would look over them and correct the incorrect or illegible parts. Now the COA's are processed and we get reports pertaining to incorrect addresses, etc. So extremely inefficient and time-consuming. Let the carrier have access to the COA before it is sent to COARS so we can be sure it is as correct as possible. This won't eliminate errors to the destination address, but it will improve the system.

PARS blows. I don't know how many times I've had people forward their mail, that I never knew about. Until, sometimes, months later. I just had someone's kid move. The kid checked "family" on the COA. Now everyone's mail is headed to Florida, from Oklahoma, and there's nothing I can do about it. Eventually it will be fixed. But for now their mail is wandering all over the lower 48.

How about "no clocks allowed" where the customer can view them. Supposedly this is to keep them in the dark as to how long they are waiting for sevice. Maybe the should "check" their watches at the door as they enter. Good Grief!

Why do we have to empty our trucks of any work gear every night, and then lug the gear back to the truck in the morning? It makes much more sense to leave my mailbag & raingear in the truck, where I will actually need it, and to have empty tubs for outgoing mail and nixies ready for the next day.

you have to take your items in every night because if it is time for maintenance your truck might not be there in the morning.

Yet, VMF has a schedule for maintenance which could be sent out to the stations so the carriers know when to get their stuff out of the vehicle.

How about the rule (F-101) that says we can't exceed 12 weeks sales amount for the total office stock balance in a manual office? That would make sense if we didn't have commemoratives that we can't sell, bird stamps that aren't really postage, and clerk drawers that only get used periodically (in a manual office due to clerk sharing, etc.). Since manual offices cannot be on SIA (due to the rules), they should have additional leeway in determining stamp stock levels. The first of the month is coming and I am out of COILS!! The Area shut down the SDO shipments, and I don't have stamps to sell my customers! This was to be my regular shipment week!