There's been complaints where I work about the state of the kitchen (particularly food abandoned in the fridge), and the response from management has been that there will be a new monthly cleaning rota introduced. I have a few other issues with the rota, but one thing stuck out particularly - when it is cleaning time, absolutely anything in the kitchen that isn't nailed down (asides cups and plates) at the time will be disposed of. This includes people's property - lunch boxes, plastic containers, anything. If it happens to be in the kitchen at cleaning time, it goes in the bin. The rules are quite clear that there are to be no exceptions or flexibility to this - leaving a note on a new bottle of milk or a lunchbox does not exempt it from the monthly purge.

I tend to bring in fresh food and refridgerate it until lunch / home time (I have a long commute, so tend to eat on the go), I never leave anything in the fridge overnight, but under the new rota rules, I can expect to have to buy a new lunch box every month after my current one gets binned, or try to remember to remove it in the middle of the day before the purge takes place (best hope I'm not in a meeting on cleaning day). Is this even okay? It feels odd that an employer would be allowed to throw away my personal effects against my wishes.

  • 4
    Given that cleaning day is only once a month, have you considered bringing in a lunch you can keep in your office on that day? Sep 9, 2016 at 13:01
  • 2
    What time of day will the cleaning happen? If it happened late in the day after everyone's lunch, that would solve some of your problem.
    – David K
    Sep 9, 2016 at 13:04
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    We did this in our last office. Once a month, the morning of the purge, an email was sent out as a reminder that at 4pm the fridge would be emptied. Sep 9, 2016 at 13:05
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    IT seems you employer has selected an effective method to combat the poor care of the kitchen by employees. The effort to plan around the monthly cleaning schedule seems pretty small potatoes.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 9, 2016 at 13:09
  • 4
    I'm seeing a rant, not a problem that you're actually looking to solve. VTC
    – Lilienthal
    Sep 9, 2016 at 13:14

2 Answers 2


You don't have any grounds to complain ... You've been warned that there will be a purge, after all, you (the employees) couldn't keep the kitchen clean. Given it's your employer's fridge/room/building - property: He can do whatever he wishes.

You know its only one day of the month, you will be able to work around and buy double the groceries the day before, or do the shopping after work.

As suggested you can certainly bring a lunch that doesn't require refrigeration, and also as suggested you can introduce an automated email to warn you all of the impending doom of that 2 weeks old milk.


It sounds like this new policy is in direct response to employees inability to clean up after themselves without management intervention. Even if you personally take care to remove your items from the kitchen space in a timely manner, if the majority of your coworkers were not doing this, then management was probably spending an undue portion of their "billable" work hours handling complaints or possibly even cleaning the space themselves. Since it is a work environment, enforcing a policy that seems unfairly strict is an acceptable solution since it reduces wasted management time, and therefore cost.

There are a few ways you can handle this.

1) Get used to it. I'm not saying this to be unhelpful - I'm suggesting giving this policy a fair trial, trying to see advantages and disadvantages. There was a policy like this at the first company I worked for, but because it was always this way as far as I had experienced, it didn't seem unfair - in fact, it was really very nice that our workplace kitchen was never cluttered or stinky. Nobody ever had a problem finding space to put their lunch in the fridge, and because there was never any "mystery" food that nobody remembered who it belonged to, instances of coworkers eating each other's food were very low. You may not find that these benefits occur in your situation, or they may not seem equal to the hassle for you. But by giving the policy a chance and logging your findings (good and bad), you will at least have a comprehensive case to present to management if you ask them to reconsider the policy.

2) Remove the need for the policy. Can the dirty kitchen problems be solved another way? If your office is small, you can place a bin for each coworker with their name on it, and ask management to try discarding only "unclaimed" items. This introduces personal accountability in the kitchen space; employees may be more conscientious about their rotten food or growing tupperware cache if it can be traced to them. Alternatively, you could require everyone to date their food items, and anything dated more than a week ago will be tossed. The key thing here is to reduce or eliminate work that your managers need to do to maintain the kitchen, because that is what this policy is doing for them.

3) Adapt. Other users have suggested bringing a lunch you can keep at your desk on cleaning day, or using email reminders to make sure you take your items before the purge. You could also try organizing a monthly lunch with your team or just some of your favorite coworkers so you don't have to bring a lunchbox that day. Or make arrangements with a coworker to save each other's stuff if one of you is in a meeting and aren't able to remove your belongings from the kitchen in time.

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