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Rules and regulations for bank employees (1885-1922)

Much like in contemporary workplaces, there were specific rules and regulations that late-19th and early-20th century Bank of Montreal employees were required to observe. While many of these rules were to ensure employees followed the guidelines, there were some that were unusual – at least, by today’s standards.

Image: Bank of Montreal Rules and Regulations, 1901.

The following were derived from Bank of Montreal’s Rules and Regulations books from 1885, 1901, and 1922:

• Secrecy: Employees were considered “bound to secrecy” and strictly prohibited from disclosing information about the bank’s business or its dealings with clients, a rule that continues to be upheld today.

• Penmanship: Employees were obliged to maintain good penmanship to avoid potential errors. The inability to discern an “8” from a “0” due to clumsy penmanship could be detrimental for balancing accounts. In many cases, advancement in the bank depended on the quality of an officer’s penmanship.

• Smoking: Smoking in bank offices during business hours (between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.) was forbidden. This rule was formally instated in 1922.

• Debt and Gambling: Employees were prohibited from incurring debt and were eligible for dismissal if found frequenting gambling houses or engaging in speculative stocks.

• Relocation: Employees were required to be prepared to move and serve at any Bank of Montreal branch.

• Marriage: The bank’s consent was required prior to marriage under penalty of dismissal and forfeiture of pension. To ensure that they could afford to support a family, employees earning below $1,200 per annum were required to request permission so that the bank could evaluate their case.

• Militia: To join a militia, employees were obliged to seek permission from Head Office.

• Resignation and Dismissal: Employees were required to give three months’ notice in writing prior to leaving the bank’s employ. In cases of misconduct, conversely, the branch manager was permitted to dismiss the employee without notice, upon which they would be paid their salary up to the date of dismissal.

Image: Rule on penmanship, Bank of Montreal Rules and Regulations, 1901.