London to ban jokes?
By Mark Weir
Workplace humour is all for shits and giggles isn’t
it? According to a recent motion passed at London City Hall,
that may not be the case after an incident involving a city
A city hall employee was vacationing with his wife in Alberta
when he received a false document from a fellow employee advising
him that he had two weeks to complete a major report. The document
appeared genuine, as it had been certified by the city clerk’s
office, and he took the bait.
The episode apparently caused such a disturbance that the
employee has since been on stress leave from his $155,000 job,
citing heart palpitations as the reason for his absence.
“We’re not trying to remove workplace humour,” said
Stephen Bahm, London City Hall manager of occupational health,
safety and corporate training. “We needed a policy to
cover all activities of discrimination that occurs in the work
“We want employees to ask themselves ‘is this
an appropriate joke for the workplace?’” Bahm said.
“We like to have fun around here,” said University
Students’ Council VP-education Dave Ford. “I once
put a whoopee cushion under [USC President] Paul Yeoman’s
chair which blew a blood vessel,” he said, confessing
it was out of revenge for an earlier episode where Yeoman trashed
Ford said all offices have different cultures that support
different types of humour. “Sometimes if you disrupt
that [office humour] then people can be less happy and productive,” he
Western psychology professor Rod Martin explained that while
humour plays an important role in the workplace, it can at
times go too far. “Work tends to be a place that we associate
with being dull and bringing a bit of play into it [but it]
can make work more enjoyable,” he said.
“Sometimes practical jokes can be fun, but it can be
really hard to draw the line,” Martin explained, adding
people need to look at the reason behind the humour and if
it is only being used to make themselves feel better.