Even Santa Needs an Employee Handbook

By Jon Hyman

Dec. 11, 2014

The Christmas season is upon us, which means that the elves are hard at work deep inside the confines of the North Pole’s buildings preparing gifts to load onto Santa’s sleight for his Yuletide trip around the globe. Pop culture, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Elf, portrays Santa’s workshop as a happy, jolly place, where the elves gleefully craft toys all hours of the day and night, with not even a whisper of discontent.

Someone (or, more accurately, some elf), has squealed.

The North Pole Employee Handbook: A Guide to Policies, Rules, Regulations and Daily Operations for the Worker at North Pole Industries was allegedly found in “the vast confines of a Newark warehouse used to store elf clothing for Christmas displays.” It appears that all is not candy and carols at the North Pole.

For example:

  • Employees are called “cogs.”
  • Humans are not discriminated against in employment, as long as they are nimble, quick, and speak in high-pitched voices.
  • Cogs receive unpaid holidays for most of January, all of February – September, and half of October. With no other industry to speak of in the North Pole, however, other income-earning opportunities must be scarce.
  • Human employees must wear fake elf ears “as a gesture of solidarity with” their “fellow employees.”
  • Cogs must sign a non-competition agreement as a condition of employment. (I guess that job at Mattel is going to have to wait.)
  • Discipline can include weeks of work without pay.
  • Cogs receive the generous allotment of one five minute break and one 11.5 minute lunch break for every 11 hours worked.

Other topics covered include the dental plan (administered by Herbie), how to participate in reindeer games, and what the 12 days of Christmas mean to you. Needless to say, Santa does not appear to be one to be trifled with. Then again, if he knows when all of the world’s kids have been naughty or nice, it stands to reason that he keeps a pretty tight grip on his employees. And, if you think Santa is a pain, the handbook makes it clear that the HR Director, Mrs. Claus, goes without physical attention from Santa during peak production times and can get a tad prickly as a result.

If you’re looking for a good holiday gift for that special HR person in your life, I strongly recommend The North Pole Employee Handbook.

Also, don’t forget after January 1 to take a look at your own employee handbook, to determine if any policies need to be updated or added.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at

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