Work Rules of 1852

How times have changed! Check out these employee regulations from 1852.

Below were the 1852 regulations for Burnley’s Cotton Mill office, England.


1. Godliness, cleanliness, and punctuality are the necessities of a good business.

2. This firm has reduced the hours of work and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.

3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The clerical staff will be present.

4. Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colors, nor will they wear hose unless in good repair.

5. Overshoes and top-coats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

6. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal each day during cold weather.

7. No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from Mr. Rogers. The calls of nature are permitted and clerical staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in good order.

8. No talking is allowed during business hours.

9. The craving of tobacco, wines or spirits is a human weakness and, as such, is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

10. Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 a.m. and noon, but work will not, on any account, cease.

11. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens.

12. The owners recognize the generosity of the new Labor Laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near utopian conditions.

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So, I guess Casual Fridays were a ‘No Go’, eh?

Peggy Tippitt

this is what our country was founded on and nothing else


Guess everyone forgot to read the very first sentence. Work rules for a cotton mill in England.


Henry Ford was the one that started the 8 hour work day, and 5 day week.

Lucy owsley

It would be the Labor unions that stopped such conditions and gave us things like the 8 hour day and 5 day work, among other things.

And now that the unions are in decline we are beginning to see such conditions again


I wonder if it was a labor union that came up with those utopian conditions.

Carmen seare

i know the feeling. Toilet monitoring is not just from the dark ages, many phone operator jobs today are scrutinized for frequent visits.

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