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

    Yes- Things like keeping volume. We live in the modern age when one could simply put a counter on the machines in the plant and know exactly to the piece what everyplace is getting. We cannot function like a business because we spend most of our time documenting how much work we did, or scanning things and printing it out to prove we did it, instead of concentrating on actually doing productive work. It would be more beneficial to teach management how to motivate employees, and then empowering them, than to establish controls to make them prove they did there job and printing reports to show. Have you ever cacualted the cost throughout the Postal Service for printing out SPMS and CPMS reports? The cost in money, not to mention trees must be truly staggering. I used to be able to go out to the drop box and get the letters and dsipatch them. Now I must go out and get the letters, scan the barcode, download the scanner, wait for it to show on the computer that I scanned it, then print out and file the sheet. Something for which I should be paid 30 seconds pay now generates 10 minutes of work. Just so the higher ups can get a bonus for 100%. Refocus on doing the work, and motivating employees to want to do their best. Focus the PMs time on interacting wth the customers and not spending the whole day doing reports.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Have to agree they need to invent a word for excessive reduncy. SPMS and CPMS is a major joke. Major loss of time Box mail and distribution scans too. Oh by the way, I need a report on the report of the scans that were scanned and keep copies of that because you certianly don't want to be on "a list".

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Totally agree about the redundancy of CPMS. I have to do the 2 scans, load the scanner in the cradle, pull up the report on the computer, print it out, sign and date it, then fax it to the EXFC office. All of this work for what? I am at a one man office, and I live 20 miles away. It is not like I am going to leave without making the scan, since I don't feel like making a 40 mile round trip over a missed scan. In addition there is somebody down at the plant making sure everybody is making their scans, because I receive a phone call if the scan doesn't load up soon enough. SPMS is another joke. They come down on us to make the scans on time everyday. What makes you think that there isn't a clerk or PM out there who is going to make the scan when the mail isn't done just to "make the numbers"? Don't tell me it doesn't happen. It totally defeats the purpose of the SPMS system. So lets just get rid of it.

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    Being forced to carry a satchel at all times! The bag is needed often, but being forced to carry an empty bag is just stupid! It gets caught on doorknobs and rails all the time, wrenching the shoulder. It is also nice to give the shoulder a break once in awhile. Then, you have supervisors just driving around making sure you are carrying an empty bag. Give me a break!!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    imagine if you were out there with your stupid empty satchel, and a loose animal attacks you, the reason for the necessity to carry it even empty is to protect yourself withit. no matter if you think it is effective or not, it works. having been a letter carrier for 24 years, and having been attacked by dogs on several occasions, i was glad i had the bag to put between me and the dog.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    well, Ed, I've been carrying longer than that, so I'll take my chances with the dogs. The dog spray works just fine. You sound more like a manager, they always come up with that dog thing. Like I said, I have to wear it a lot anyway, but empty is stupid! Why not just wear a suit of armor, that oughta keep you safe.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    we just had a carrier get bit last week. she was not wearing her satchel. she had her dog spray but did not use it. if she had her satchel maybe she would not have been bitten in the leg. if you dont like the rules of the job, maybe you should look for another one. in this economy, good luck.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    Having a workhour budget for clerks mandated from District to individual offices. Certainly understandable to use as a guideline to keep control on the budget, but a PM is the best to know what work is required and how many hours are needed to run their office. Decision making is NOT pushed down. Simple fix, hold the PM's accountable and let them work their office the way they determine. Hmmmm? might have better window service Hmmmm? might have accountables done properly Hmmmm? might have PO boxes available because the locks are changed.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    it sounds like you work in my office...ha!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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!

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    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?

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    Probably a good idea.

    Sep 30, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

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

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

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

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    we have 7 supervisors for 11 craft,

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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?!!!

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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."

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Aug 08, 2014
  • anon

    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!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

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

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Aug 08, 2014
  • anon

    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!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sep 28, 2009
  • anon

    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

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Aug 08, 2014
  • anon

    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.

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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."

    Oct 09, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Oct 01, 2009
  • anon

    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!

    Sep 29, 2009
  • anon

    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.

    Aug 08, 2014

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