Referring A Son Can Get Messy

Q: I recently referred my son to a position within my company. The position is working for one my three supervisors. I am a director at a large medical device company and we have had a horrible time recruiting for this one role. My son would be ideal! I was told by HR that he could not work within my area of responsibility even though he is not reporting to me. Is this a common policy? I have never heard of such a policy. We are facing recruitment challenges so I thought this would be the answer to our prayers.

A: Many companies have policies which provide guidelines for employees, including an “employment of relatives” policy. Many of the policies prohibit immediate relatives from working too closely together. Some policies will discourage immediate relatives from working within the same department. While other policies will prohibit an employee from being related to a senior manager or a board member. Sometimes there are exceptions to these rules, like summer interns or seasonal employees. The intent of the policy is to minimize favoritism or even the perception of favoritism.

In your situation, you could be placing your supervisor in an awkward situation. What if your supervisor has to discipline your son? Or what if your supervisor thinks your son is outstanding and she wants to promote him? Will others assume it is because of the familial relationship? Or what is your son shares information with you that he shouldn’t? It becomes a messy challenge.

There are reasons why companies implement such policies. Most companies want their organizations to be run in the best interest of the company. Companies are hoping that employees will make decisions based on what is best for the company and sometimes familial relationship can interfere with that impartiality.

Although your recruitment is a challenge for your company, I would honor your company’s policy and refrain from referring family members.

by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC

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