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).

Comments (209)

  • anon

    As a city carrier I find these two rules so silly, I am going to register them with the Ministry of Silliness. 1. Were not allowed to have more then two wings on our case, yet Mgt is adding more and more deliveries. Now I am crammed into a two wing 6 shelve case that has double addresses in many single cells. I have a hard time casing, you know, the volume that's never coming back. The case gets to full, hard to case up, promotes misdeliveries, slow to pull down, double clutching. And now there are gaping holes in our office because were all pushed together. Why, oh wise ones, why ? 2.The silly rule that says I can't handle parcels or line up and unstrap coverages in the office. Why ? Because it's a street funtion not an office funtion, I was told by one sup, the next one told me it was because it would be double handling the mail ? Ok whatever, all I know is when I could line it up in the office it saved me overall time, therefore...

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Golden Hour... so the supervisor can nap...

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Paying 4 supervisors when two are only working other are at home getting paid to sit at home.......if a supervisor or pm wants to walk with a carrier just get in the truck why should we waste money paying them for gas when half the time they are just doing errands anyway.....please put more bar codes on the street no better time wasting practice than having to walk to a house thats on hold to scan the bar code and supervisors stop telling me it only takes a minute my job is time and everthing takes time stop trying to justify your jobs

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    How about 3 or 4 of your MSP scans placed on vacant houses on your route just because we do not listen to letter carriers? Dumb and time wasting.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    We have to back our personal cars in to our parking spots in the employee parking lot. No customer cars in the lot ,just employee cars. Makes NO sense to me.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    I think we should scrap the whole VOE surveys. 20 years of surveying and we keep getting the same answers. We do not reward the good or punish the bad. There has been no fix so let's just get to the job of processing mail. There must be millions to be saved with this program.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Agree with you one the VOE. I chose not to turn one in this year. Why? Look at the questions-they don't ask you about what really matters, micromanagement is not mentioned, upper management is not mentioned either. That is where the real problems are at. All the VOE survey asks are questions that are worded in a way so that you give them the answers that they want to hear. Very deceptive.

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    HQ needs to get rid of 1/2 the Area offices, revert back to the old 5 regions. With this volume decline....too many staffers at the Area levels to support the sinking Titanic.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    The ELM, M-41, and M-39, and most likely every other manual, need updating to reflect the 21st Century and human conditions of today. One of the best rules is in the M-39 which instructs supervisors to take into consideration employee's ideas of work methods. Unfortunately, I've only met three supervisors who have actually read and understood what it meant. I spose I should be thankful having met one every ten years of my postal employment. That might be a higher ratio than other employees can attest.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Using such a small sampling of a City Carriers mail to establish the size of a route, then the millions of dollars wasted trying to manage to this unrealistic view of the time required to serve the route. Switch City Carriers to an evaluation system like we do for Rural Carriers. Also, we all are not theives and liars.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Why are we required as Rural Carriers to turn over our DPS tray on our case before we case it? It is so annoying the letters are upside down and uneven. It might have been useful years ago when letter were same size. Now with letters varing so much in height and width this is so ineffecient, to try and pick up a stack of letter readjust them so you can case your DPS.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    We can not carry postal supplies in our vehicle at all times!!Post Office on wheels???!! The customers want priorty mailing supplies , ANY USPS mailing supplies with the easiest,quickest way for them and knowledgable form, from someone they know and trust ;their carrier and not being forced to use the internet they do not trust . We can't put stamps on or bring in parcels in to be proceeded over 13 ounces no matter what class from customers we have know for years and have been our secure and trusted income???! SOME Carriers know their customers and want to service them for job security for all types of postal employees that want to keep the USPS in buisness from these long time and trusted customers. Treat each individual post office with their needed rules to apply to that office. Some workers earn their salary more than others workers no matter what rank!! Some workers are more of a asset to the company get paid less and are not credited for the jobs ,limited duty that are not doing the job they were hired for and NOT taking a cut in pay as many workers have! Credit the workers that derserve it!!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    How about backtracking to deliver first class missorted mail in DPS? How about driving first class missent mail all over the county even when it won't get delivered timely? How about being required to do a report by 9 that you don't have information for until 10 but are told to do it any way and then do it again later and put the right numbers in. How about having to correct the bad addresses of people who aren't smart enough to know the address that they are moving to? How about all the placards we have to use when we dispatch mail so the mail handlers will know where to put it? Can't they read? And I really love the blue collection box placard that has to be printed on blue paper. (colorblind anyone?) How about the maintenance guys that drive 2 hours to get to my office and drive two hours back to fix a problem when there are GMF maintenance men 1 hour away but they are in the wrong SCF. How about the transportation contracts we have that we pay hundreds of thousand of dollars to to contractors who simply drive right by offices they are supposed to drop mail off to because volume has declined so much that they don't need the amount of trips on their contract and they have no mail so they drive on by or tap the dock and wave.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Using a full sized semi to bring a single tub of Express Mail flats out to our office.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    The inability of front line supervisors and postmasters to make a decision without FIRST contacting District. Why bother having this layer of management when they are NOT PERMITTED to manage? Managers are instruced not to settle grievances without FIRST informing labor relations. The informal and formal steps are a farce.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Our managers have been turned into specialized clerks. Too bad, a few have some good skills and talents motivating workers.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    When asked what I do at the PO, I always say I am a Manager, with a smile. When asked why I am smileing, I say, "Its becasue of what I do." The next quesition is what do I do? My response, "I am the most overpaid, under qualified data entry clerk you will ever meet."

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    As an EAS 20 Postmaster 95% of what I do is web based but we still have to print out each report, round date, sign and file. We also have to certify to our Suspense Coordinator by email that we have printed, round dated and signed a hard copy. If you want specific reports that are redundant just let me know.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Boy, isn't that the truth.

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    Columbus ga gmf employees are not allowed to hydrate while on the woorkroom floor which means we have to walk away from work to get water

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    How about the ‘unofficial’ rule, allowed under the RMSS and “old school” thought at the New Jersey NDC (formerly NJI & BMC) that you will never become an ET in the building, no matter how qualified you are, unless you work there as an MPE first. Forget about the fact that you can be hired off the street as an ET, or simply transfer to another facility (like a coworker did who went to Trenton to escape the BS here) and become an ET without a problem.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    The OTDL is a joke. OT must be evenly distributed. Alot of times management has to give OT to some carrier just to avoid a grievience, by having them just sit there on the clock.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    in response to STIFFLED: The NALC will never let that happen, even though it would help save the Postal Service.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Just recently in our plant they decided we had to label every tray of 1st pass mail on Sunday, because there were problems in processing 2nd pass on Monday. All because of one or two people that just "don't get it" they punish the rest of us that know what we are doing with all this "busy work" that will not solve the issue at hand. Instead of properly training the people that suddenly lost their T-2 jobs and got thrown into T-1 automation they try and blanket the rest of us to "dumb down" our procedures. What happened to working smarter? We learned techniques to help us get the mail out in a timely manner, now they throw in more obstacles and it takes us longer. Just like the USPS to add more time to get something done when our training techniques cut the processing time in half. Why would I want to spend MORE time doing the same thing?

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Stop subsidizing UPS. Why help UPS turn a profit. Case in point. Last Mile program. A program designed to make a service provided by UPS profitable.WHY!!!!! We do the hard work, deliver package to an address at a huge discount for UPS; all they do is transport from state to a city.If they can't make money on that service, then customers will come to USPS after that service is discontinued by UPS. If we don't help UPS make money they will drop that service. If our boat sinks; management will have done it all by themselves.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Read on an UPS carrier message board the other day that UPS has figured out it's cheaper to have us deliver their stuff for $2 shot than pay their people OT to do it. If that's correct, watch out come Christmas time. We'll be swamped with stuff from UPS.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    One more. This goal of 97% for EXFC. We are spending millions of dollars chasing this goal. 95% was resonable and could be obtained by streamlining our processes. The last 2% to reach 97% is very very costly. Running mail to offices all over the district is crazy. We sometimes spend 10-20 dollars per letter to get these home all in the name of EXFC. Cap the goal at 95% and lets start running this place like a business instead of just spending OPM.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    EXFC in NYC is done by giving an employee a fistful of $ for Subway and Bus Fare to visit every other office dropping a missent letter or 2. The $10 in postage collected doesn't nearly cover the expense.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Good point. They used to pay overtime to deliver 5 letters all over the city after 5 pm. Now they use part-timers so they can get their 20 hours. I say let the light duties do this dumb work. Better yet scrap the program.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Do you really want to fix the Post Office??? The private sector rewards hard work!!! The Post Office rewards hard work with more work! I'm a letter carrier and I have been relegated to maintain a bus drivers schedule via the "MSP SCANS" in fear of getting an even larger route!!! Great incentive! Lets end the non-sense. I would give-up overtime rules for the "INCENTIVE" of not having to punch-out on a clock. Determine a fair yearly salary for the size of the route and build in a quarterly or semi-annual review of volume adjustments to maintain fairness for both parties. The overtime desired list would be utilized to "cover" open routes. Eliminating overtime and end-of-day clock rings would eliminate unproductive behavior because there would be nothing to gain by being "slow" and furthermore it would incentivize the workforce toward effiency which would translate into INCREDIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE! As part of our incentive, drop MSP scans, allow us to manage our own routes i.e set them up in proper line-of-travel for speed and on heavy volume days allow us to roll standard mail to the next day and most importantly allow us to prepare and carry our mail as we see fit. For me that would be a 1 bundle system put together in the office in a fixed weather environment lowering the "labor-intensive" street-time to a minimum which would reduce our bodies physical wear-and-tear not to mention accidents!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    that is called an evaluated route, it is the same thing the rural carriers have in place. the major problem with that is the fact that it does away with overtime. this is well known, that is why the N.A.L.C. will not allow it to happen. With out the need to fight for every unit of overtime a lazy carrier that did not want to do his job in the first place did not recieve as opposed to someone else who actually does thier job. if they went to evaluated routes the union would have no reason to exist and that would be a travesty wouldn't it. Dont get me wrong, im not anti union, but when did the union go from being an advocate for workers rights, to a money grubbing advocate for as much as we can get. if the postal service management went after carriers topay for express mails that they fail, and if the carriers were asked to pay that money back for faileing the express mail, the union would have a fit. but let a supervisor send an non-odl out to deliver a piece of late arriving express mail to a customer because they were the first ones back, and the union ask for everyone on the odl to be paid at 200 percent what the time ratio was the non odl worked. is that really fair, and is that customer service/ I think not, but that is what the union is all about now.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Big Ed, What the heck are you rambling about?!?! The reason no one wants an evaluated system, is because (and you can the rural carriers about this) is that management evaluates the times. Thats why so many Rurals have taken such a huge financial hit. Agree to an evaluated time, and then management has a summer sale, wth???? You might note that the rurals have a union, and plenty of grievances, and get less pay (per hour) than City Letter Carriers. They went to arbitration and lost... What we need (and what brother Stiffled wants) is Self-Managed routes. Show me a supervisor who's day isnt done at 10:30 99 days out of 100. The rest of the time is spent surfing the net. Why doesnt the OIG simply look at some of the computer records, and see how much supervisor time is spent shopping online and surfing the Drudge report and sites like this one. Now that would be real savings!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    You are right about rurals-we are highly motivated to find the most efficient way to work the rt(taking the stuff to the street is a not efficient-duh).We don't need a supervisor unless there is a problem. Until recently(couple of years ago) we handled our own schdules-time off ect. You are right about the count-the fox is in charge of the hen house-and it's time for every manner of cheating, bullying harrassment, sarcastic commentary-everything that makes for a hostile work environment. This behavior seems to be ok with usps if it saves money.

    Oct 01, 2009
  • anon

    Perhaps if clerks and city carriers were salaried employees and really had a opportunity to save money and improve service then the Postal Service would reduce the number of supervisors needed to bring the slackers in line!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    removed my last post because I mentioned a name??? what is up with that? anyway. how about this rule. lets close the duplicating department and then contract out the printing of labels and mailings to customers. retail sales wanted to have something printed in house but was told duplicating was closing so they checked around and found it would cost $180,000 for one print job. this is more then what is costs to run an in-house print shop for a year and this is just one job! who makes these rules just to save money? where is the savings here?

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    OK , new software more reports. In the Bmeu needless time is spent on rules and regulation. This creates reports so someone can sit at a desk (non productive) and micromanage. Do what is legal and necessary. Let the clerk be more productive and not try to keep up with a random generator for mail examination. Needless overtime is being spent for what? a software; generator. Think about it!!!!!!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Submitting one name per Moved Left No Address card (PS Form 3575-Z). The form needs to be redesigned for households with multiple last names. Section-8 apartment "families" with seven or eight children, all with different last names, require a lot of paper waste and duplication of information to complete. A single vacant apartment can make 20 minutes of work for a carrier, even more when they are required to stop and listen to a supervisor yelling that they are "stealing from the post office" for doing their job. Make life simple again, like it was before management screwed up by fixing things with PARS.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    "Every accident is a preventable accident." I remember when they told us zero tolerance for accidents. Hmmm...i thought an accident was an accident. Not intentional. They use to have stand ups and go over every accident and how it could be prevented. The funniest was when a carrier was in his LLV and was hit from behind while waiting for a light to change. They said he should have been looking in his mirror and got out of the way. LOL! Wow! Really?! What would have happened if he had pulled into the path of another car trying to get out of the way. Then it would have really been the carriers fault. Either way.... Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Same thing happened to me....I was stopped, then rear-ended. Then I was told it was preventable because I didn't move forward. I wasn't allowed to report I COULDN'T move because of traffic.

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    The stupid rule that is in the contract that when one of my buds, about 8 in the last ten years, has to be provided work when they have had a DUI. They can't drive their routes but the PM has to find work for them. The USPS isn't supposed to be involved in our private lives but yet their private lives become part of my work. Have a DUI? Goodbye Drunk. Fire them and let them apply for reinstatement.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    my favorite rule which i got in trouble for was when my sup came over to me and yelled at me for eating on the workroom floor is not allowed at anytime as she is eating while yelling at me

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    We had a 204-b that used to let the phone ring endlessly. The phone was at her desk, in the middle of the work room floor, within arms reach of her. She would never answer it. But, if anybody else tried to answer the phone, she would yell "Get back in your case." Wonderful customer service.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Poor complainers making all that money! I guess when the doors closes and some other company delivers the mail, you might have wished you did not complain so much!! Do our jobs, serve our customers, that is what we are paid to do, if we did not worry about things we cannot control and maybe work a little harder, we might not be in the shape that we are in today! Maybe you constant complainers should think about that on pay day!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Work a little harder?! I think I'm speaking for a lot when I say, "Routes should be adjusted to eight hours, not nine or ten like they're doing." All to save other peoples' jobs. Don't abuse us carriers' bodies and minds to save your butts.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    SOX compliance! The law states we must comply with our own rules and regs. The problem is typical of any government agency we have been adding rules for ages and we have not ever changed them when times changed. We need a team to study our own rules and make changes to them that allows us to meet SOX without huge cost. So many rules on the books that must be followed that are obsolete. For year all offices have just ignored or not followed the multitude of rediculious policies but now we are spending many many hours doing so due to SOX compliance. I suggest you start a survey and asked what rules and regulations need to be changed. I will start with one. 1)Our rules state all Postal one date must be entered into postal one by the close of business. This may be possible in large offices with dedicated BMEU staff but in smaller offices in order to be SOX compliant another clerk has to be scheduled just to make the entries to meet our own deadline into Postal One. If our rules allowed 24 hours to make the entries we could enter the information during window down time the next day. Many more where this came from.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    SOX compliance is not an option. It is regulated GAAP rules of accountability and FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board). These rules were put into place to counter the ever increasing issues with WorldCom, Enron, UnitedHealth, Arthur Anderson, etc. When businesses try to cheat, the FASB and SEC must step in. Accountability was never held against those who worked for an organization, because the organization was considered an entity, solely responsible for itself. The people running it were not held accountable for the decisions made for the sake of the company. That had to change. Ask Bernie Madoff why and he'll tell you why - he knew what he was doing. SOX compliance is not optional and can lead to prison time for those who fail to complay with it. I suggest if you like your job and don't like living in a small cell, that you worry about complying and not complaining.

    Oct 03, 2009
  • anon

    where is your office..i can help...i am usually looking for something bmeu related to do. :)

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    How about making a rule no cell phones on the work room floor. I see more people that are on thier phone that on their machine.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    we have that rule in our office.. No cell phone use on the workroom floor unless your management and the USPS pays for it... Anyway can anyone answer how much the USPS, who is so broke, pays for Blackberry's for management? I watch my PM who makes 100g, and my POOM who makes 115g have them... um why?

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    What's this obsession with keeping our (city carrier) postal vehicles and cases free of empty equipment and forms we use daily? If there is mail left on the case or in the vehicle then take action. Otherwise, quit trying to justify your managerial jobs by micromanaging mine.

    Sep 29, 2009

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