Hello and welcome to our third Employment Law Snippet article. As usual, this article aims to discuss a chosen topic in an interesting, non-jargon filled way and identify how it might affect employees and employers alike.
This week’s topic is a wonderful one: Disneyland! Yes, (almost) everyone loves Disneyland!! I put the ‘almost’ in brackets because, otherwise, it guarantees at least one person will respond: “I don’t like Disneyland”…
So, Disneyland. Employment law. How could they possibly coincide with each other? Well, Disneyland is known for having some ‘interesting’ rules when it comes to staff and/or staff in Disney character costumes, so it is worth having a look at these rules and how workable or not they may be within any future UK-based Disneyland!
After all, the “happiest place on earth” is surely likely to require some sacrifice and strict rules behind the scenes to function, right? In fact, let’s be honest, all workplaces have rules but, naturally, different companies have different goals and, therefore, a different rulebook!
Let’s explore some rules given to Disneyland employees and see if being employed at Disneyland is as ‘magical’ as being a visitor (spoiler alert: not really!)
RULE ONE – Costumed employees can’t eat or drink within public view
So, you’re Cinderella walking around Disneyland. It’s a hot day, there are plenty of visitors and you’re extremely thirsty. You pass a cold drink stall on a surprisingly quiet side-street and think ‘oh, I could just do with a small container of ice cold water’. Can you drink it? Nope! You need to be out-of-sight or underground (most Disney parks have underground sections) to eat or drink as a costumed employee!
People in public facing positions, such as lawyers for example, may say ‘we don’t normally eat or drink in front of clients’, which is fairly true. But if I’m thirsty to the extent that my throat is dry and I’m going to croak at a client, I’ll take some water in and, also, I have downtime at my desk in comparison to costumed Disney employees!
RULE TWO – Asking a celebrity for an autograph can lead to dismissal!
Just as it says on the tin, really. Celebrities and their families are to be treated as any other guests, so employees aren’t permitted to ask for autographs or free stuff! I’m not sure this one is overly controversial seeming as it would rather break the illusion if Mickey Mouse asked you for your autograph when visiting Disneyland…
RULE THREE – Men can’t have partly grown beards
There is a rule that facial hair is allowed up to a certain length but can’t be ‘partly grown’. In reality, this means that, should an employee want to try out a beard, they’ll need to grow it on holiday and return with it at regulation length!
Albeit, to give Disney credit, it is interesting that a beard is allowed when some industries can’t allow beards for Health and Safety reasons (i.e. because it prevents a clean seal on face masks and personal protective equipment).
RULE FOUR – Employees can’t answer a question with “I don’t know”
This means that, if a staff member doesn’t know the answer to a question (barring philosophical questions, of course), they can’t direct the individual elsewhere but, rather, must solve the question with them. Usually, this means asking another staff member with the individual or calling a telephone operator until the question is answered.
On the one hand, this seems a simple rule which benefits visitors. On the other hand, if the staff member has urgent duties elsewhere and stops to answer a quick question, it must be frustrating to have to stick it out until the end rather than simply pass them to a suitable colleague to help.
Overall, there are numerous rumours about rules for Disneyland staff (who aren’t permitted to discuss the ‘rules’ whilst employed) but, perhaps, the rules aren’t all that controversial. Being on the employee side of things is, obviously, usually less ‘magical’ than being on vacation as a Disneyland visitor but the rules don’t seem to breach UK employment law as long as staff are permitted sufficient break periods under the Working Time Regulations.
So, there we go. Disneyland in the UK would appear to be employment law compliant based on those park rules! Are you listening, Mickey??