Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Disney's Employee Handbook from 1943

Major hat tip to Tim Eavenson, who dug up this little gem: The Ropes at Disney's - an employee handbook from 1943, published by their Personnel Department. It's like taking a time machine back to the HR department of the 40s.

The first thing I noticed was how friendly the handbook seemed. It even included some cool illustrations (I mean, it is Disney after all). There were, however, a few signs of the times. For example, there are different sick policies for men and women. Men got 5 sick days with no more than 3 consecutive, whereas women received 10 days and up to 5 consecutive. And then there's the Disney Penthouse Club - "Men only! Sorry, gals. . . . ."

These are terms I generally try to avoid in employee handbooks. That said, I think the 1943 handbook is still a vast improvement over the 1970s policies of Tiger Mike (the all-time champ of great HR).

Update: Jon Hyman has also weighed in on this old Disney handbook - We've Come a Long Way Baby. He notes the inclusion of violation of the United States Espionage Act as grounds for termination.

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.