HomeInsuranceLipton handbook for employees in Albion from 1961 details employee benefits

Lipton handbook for employees in Albion from 1961 details employee benefits

Posted 27 August 2023 at 3:09 pm

Free turkey at Thanksgiving, three months of maternity leave among policies

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

“Illuminating Orleans” – Vol. 3, No. 27

This handbook on workplace practices and policies was issued to Lipton employees in 1961.

ALBION – “Our people are our greatest asset.”

So asserted Leonard O. Morneau, then plant manager at the Thomas J. Lipton facility in Albion.

He was speaking at a 1960 Chamber of Commerce dinner held in recognition of the Lipton Company’s million-dollar expansion at the site.

Recently, a Lipton’s personnel manual and several employee benefit documents from the 1960s were donated to the Orleans County Department of History. These papers are in excellent condition and provide an insight into the employment policies of the major local employer at that time.

The manual, entitled “Your Life at Lipton” extends a “Welcome to those who are joining the Lipton Family.” It outlines workplace policies and explains the employee benefits available to “Liptonites.”

An on-site Medical Department provided health services. A company doctor screened prospective employees to ensure that they were fit for the duties required and to establish baseline health. Subsequently, an annual physical examination was conducted. The results of these examinations were kept in the employee’s medical folder which was filed in the Medical Department.

The medical staff could provide emergency treatment as well as diagnose and treat occupational accidents and injuries. The department also offered periodic chest X-Rays and immunizations against polio, influenza and tetanus.

Plant employees worked 40 hours per week while office employees worked 37.5 hours per week. The company “contributed a substantial amount each year” to provide a lunchroom as a staff benefit.

Employees were allowed to smoke in the lounge rooms and the lunchroom. Male and female office employees were permitted to smoke at their desks.

The manual outlined the employee benefits in place:

Comprehensive Health Care Plan: (Liptons paid half of the premium)

•  Family members were each covered up to $10,000 ($102,240 per U.S. Inflation Calculator) for any serious illness.

•  The first $500 ($5,110) of any hospital bills were covered.

•  80% of any charges exceeding that amount.

•  80% of surgery expenses.

•  80% of anesthesia charges up to a maximum of $70 ($715)

• Costs associated with “illness at home”

• Maternity benefits: $320 ($3,300) for a normal delivery, $430 ($4,400) for a Caesarian section, $240 ($2,450) for a miscarriage.

• Dependent children to age 19 were covered and to 23 if still in school.

•  Retirees who had worked for ten years were permitted to continue with the plan, though the maximum amount payable was $2,500 ($25,600).

Sickness and Accident Benefits:

This covered accidents not caused by employment. Employees contributed 30¢ ($3.07) per week. The benefit paid 50% of wages, up to a maximum of $50 ($511) per week, for up to 26 weeks.

Life Insurance:

A contributary Life Insurance (14¢ ($1.43) per week per $1,000 ($10,225) of coverage) was also in place. In addition, employees who had completed one year of work were insured during employment in an additional non-contributory life insurance plan through the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company.

Pension Plan:

The company also contributed “substantial funds” to a Trust Fund to provide lifetime income for employees who retired aged 65. This income when combined with the Social Security benefit would produce a “liberal retirement income.”

Employees who had worked over 20 years earned 1/5th of earnings up to $3,600 ($36,800) per year and 3/10ths of earnings greater than that amount.

Female Employees:

Labor laws dictated that female employees could not begin work before 6 a.m. and could not work after midnight.


Pregnant employees were required to report their condition to the supervisor and to the nurse in the Medical Department during the third month. Failure to do so would result in immediate termination of employment without the benefit of a termination allowance and the employee would not be reconsidered for re-employment.

A pregnant employee could only work up to a maximum of five months of pregnancy. Employment could be terminated in advance of the fifth month if the company physician determined that the employee was exposed to hazards on the job.

A two-week termination allowance was given to employees who cooperated and arranged to leave their jobs (resign) in accordance with the best judgement of the Medical Department.

A maternity leave of absence was three months. Returning employees were required to present a birth certificate.

Also, the company hosted an annual social event for its employees. Employees and retired employees received a turkey at Thanksgiving and a gift package of Lipton products at Christmas.

The closure of the company in 1980 “due to the availability of more modern facilities at other locations” was a major blow to its employees and to the Orleans County economy.

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