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8 Bizarre Rules Pepsi Employees Have to Follow

One rule restricts employees from using certain words.

You don't get to be #2 without a lot of rules. And with apologies to PepsiCo and its employees, that's what the company is, it's the runner-up. Why? Because Coca-Cola is a juggernaut and is the world's largest soft drink brand. According to data from Statista, in America, Coke had a 44.9% market share in 2020, the most recent year for which figures are available, while Pepsi had 25.9%.

But hey, a quarter of the massive American soft drink market isn't bad! PepsiCo keeps its ship on course, as it has since the company was formed in the late 1800s, by having quite a few rules its workers have to follow. And as with most massive corporations, most of its rules are nothing that raises an eyebrow. But with a bit of digging, we did unearth a number of strange rules Pepsi employees have to follow if they want to remain gainfully employed at the #2 soda brand. Plus, don't miss 8 Bizarre Rules Coca-Cola Employees Have to Follow.

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They must refer to Coca-Cola by a very specific name

coke and pepsi

According to a vending machine operator who has contracts with soft drink makers who shared his knowledge on Quora, PepsiCo employees are not only barred from drinking competitor's products, but can't even say "Coke" or "Coca-Cola," but instead are required to refer to their chief competitor as "the red product."

Pepsi workers cannot consume competitors products at work

drinking pepsi

Much like drinking a Pepsi in a Coca-Cola office or warehouse can get workers fired from Coke, a PepsiCo employee spotted sipping a Coke or a Sprite or another beverage from a competitor can be fired for the offense.

All PepsiCo employees must follow a Global Code of Conduct

employee handbook

As spelled out in a recent PepsiCo employee handbook, every employee, from "offices, plants, and warehouses to the boardroom" are bound to follow the same Code of Conduct or else risk termination from the company.

Pepsi employees can get around that Global Code of Conduct

pepsi cans

As big a deal as Pepsi makes about every one of its workers being bound by the Code, from the stockroom to the boardroom, it's actually not always a binding matter. In its handbook, Pepsi states: "Any waiver of our Code requires the prior written approval of the Global Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer or, in certain circumstances, the Board of Directors or a committee thereof." So there's a backdoor to the rules, e.g.

Employees must report transgressions of co-workers

pepsi truck

Who needs Big Brother when you're obliged to report on your colleagues directly? PepsiCo workers are supposed to report any misdeeds they witness or learn of, either reporting directly to management or via the Speak Up Hotline, a service set up for workers to "ask questions, raise concerns, or make reports of suspected compliance violations." However, according to the site The Layoff, it's not uncommon for people who do lodge complaints to end up fired.

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Long hours are required

long hours

Read through enough posts left on job sites like by past and current Pepsi employees and you'll see one trend stand out clearly: managers expect workers to be willing to put in very long shifts and are very inflexible with time off. One employee even reported taking a single day off to be with her beloved pet as the dog was put to sleep and was fired for so doing.

In 2021, workers at a Frito-Lay plant in Kansas walked off the job protesting forced overtime and 84-hour work weeks, reported Newsweek. Workers were protesting grueling 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, and so-called "suicide shifts" that only left eight hours between shifts. Workers also cited poor wages, including one alleging a mere 77-cent raise over the past 12 years. Another quoted a disturbing day when "a co-worker collapsed and died, you had us move the body and put in another co-worker to keep the line going." Frito-Lay disputed the employee's recollection, asserting that, "medical attention was initially provided at the plant and work ceased until the associates were safely on the way to the hospital." However, one could understand how the traumatic loss of an associate while on the job could cause psychological trauma.

Employees must be stewards of the environment

pepsi employee working

We like to see big companies that care about nature and the environment, but we're nonetheless surprised when we see it codified in the rules. According to PepsiCo's directive for its employees, though, workers are required to report any tasks assigned that they feel may be "harmful to the environment" and to report on anyone else they see engaging in such as well.

Empathy and open-mindedness are required

pepsi bottles

While of course empathy and acceptance of others are good things, the level of emphasis the PepsiCo company puts on these traits is unusual nonetheless. Per an employee handbook, workers are essentially required to embrace diversity of all types, to engage in dialogue and active listening to others, and to be empathetic and appreciative at all times.

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven
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