Government mandated postings make for wretched office decor.

I’m an early bird. Typically I’m the first one in our office, usually arriving between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. First thing I do is turn on my computer, then while it’s booting up I head for the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee. There in solitude I can’t help but contemplate the same wretched decor found in workplaces across the land.

You’re all familiar with the blizzard of notices employers are required by law to post “in a conspicuous place for all employees.” As in many of your facilities, our office manager chose the kitchen, one wall of which is taken up by a 4 ft. x 6 ft. glass enclosed bulletin board containing posters and memoranda informing employees of various federal and state employment statutes.

I counted 16 separate notices, plus a few duplicates from combination posters. Subjects cover EEOC, OSHA, family medical leave, employee polygraph protection, minimum wage, child labor, wage payment and collection, workman’s comp, unemployment benefits, equal pay, employment classification and rights of uniformed services personnel. Most of the information is common knowledge or has little bearing on the scores of people who work in our office, although I confess that I haven’t delved into OSHA guidelines pertaining to paper cuts.

The posters are varied in size and shape and thus a few overlap a bit, obscuring some text. I hope I don’t get our company in trouble by pointing this out. In mitigation, I wish to inform the authorities that I’m pretty sure I speak for all of my colleagues in saying we really don’t care. In all the years I’ve worked here, I’ve never spotted anyone actually reading any of the boilerplate. Only with this article in mind was I inspired to close inspection of the bulletin board’s contents.

To be fair, in doing so I discovered a couple of Illinois laws of which I wasn’t aware. One explains the right of criminal or sexual assault victims to take unpaid leaves from work to deal with their issues. Good to know, I suppose, although I’m confident that if I were ever unfortunate enough to qualify for such relief our HR staff would clue me in. Another from the Illinois DOL informs us of the right to one day of rest out of seven. If it was good enough for our Creator, who am I to argue with that one.

A couple of the notices are affixed to the naked wall outside the bulletin board boundaries, because the 24 square feet of corkboard is not enough to accommodate all the information our governmental guardian angels feel compelled to lay on us. One actually contains some potentially useful information from the Illinois Department of Public Health offering instruction, with graphics, of how to rescue someone who is choking. However, it’s just a snowflake amid the blizzard and I can’t picture anyone consulting it while a choker gasps for air. The other outlier informs us where to file a complaint with the State of Illinois if we catch anyone smoking inside of our building – courtesy of (former) Gov. Rod Blagojevich, we are reminded. Thanks, Blago, though I’m surprised to find you of all people encouraging snitches.

Getting serious, those posting requirements are a minor nuisance compared with so many other regulatory monstrosities imposed upon businesses. The point of this essay is that the bulletin board blizzard offers stark visual evidence of bureaucracy run amok.

As an employee and believer in fair play, I’m all in favor of employee protection laws. It’s just that the enforcers have multiplied into an army of nitpickers bogged down with tasks that do little to protect employees but much to waste taxpayer money and diminish the ability of businesses to grow and create jobs for more employees. Think about all the time, effort and money spent on designing those posters, composing the text, running it by proofreaders, lawyers and several layers of upper-level staffers, then putting ink on paper and distributing gazillions of copies to every nook and cranny of our land. Oh, and let’s have a moment of silence for all those poor trees meeting their demise for the cause!

Yet the regulations proliferate like rabbits fed Viagra. It’s only a matter of time before our public servants pass a law requiring businesses to operate from facilities large enough to accommodate their ever expanding wall of mandates.

Stock tip - load up on wallboard manufacturers.