hands are tied

(one's) hands are tied

One is being prevented from acting, helping, or intervening as one should or desires to due to circumstances beyond one's control, such as rules, conflicting orders, or higher priorities. I'm sorry, I would love to approve your application, but my hands are tied by the regulations. The company stated that they have tried everything in their power to avoid pay cuts, but their hands are tied at this point.
See also: hand, tie

someone's hands are tied

Fig. someone is not able to help or intervene. (See also .) I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. My hands are tied.
See also: hand, tie
References in periodicals archive ?
Maybe company policy considers this a gray area, and the human resources legal department feel their hands are tied.