Hiring Relatives: Definition, Tips and Pros and Cons

What is nepotism? Nepotism is when an employee is shown favoritism at work because of their familial relationship to someone else at the business, whether they’re a manager, an HR employee or an owner.

I’m frequently questioned about the benefits of hiring family members by small businesses. Some business owners have questioned whether hiring family members presents legal or moral issues. Numerous businesses hire relatives in full-time and contract positions, regardless of whether you think this is ethical or nepotistic.

Hiring Family Members. Things to Do and What To Avoid

What is nepotism?

Nepotism occurs when a worker receives favorable treatment at work because of a family connection to another employee, manager, human resources representative, or business owner. This could involve someone receiving a higher salary because a relative decides on their pay, or even getting a job because a relative decides on hiring. Even the appearance of nepotism can have an impact on a workplace’s culture because other employees who suspect nepotism may cause problems with the people involved or leave the company.

What does hiring relatives involve?

When a business employs one person, they then hire someone who is in that person’s immediate family. Family members who are involved in this relationship could include a parent, stepparent, sibling, child, cousin, aunt or uncle, niece, or nephew. Relationships created through marriage, such as those with a spouse, a stepchild, or an employee’s in-laws, can also be included. Hiring relatives is sometimes not a problem, but other times it can be because of nepotism or because people assume there is nepotism involved.

Pros and cons to hiring relatives

Hiring the relatives of current employees has both benefits and drawbacks. Here are the advantages to hiring an employees relative:

The following are some drawbacks of hiring a worker’s relative:

Tips for working with relatives

The following advice will help you manage hiring relatives of current workers:

Create a formal policy

Having a formal policy written is one of the best ways to manage employee relationships of any kind. This can be incorporated into the employee handbook and made available to all staff members. A formal policy might cover matters such as how to recommend someone for employment, the kinds of relationships that are permitted between coworkers, whether relatives are permitted to work in the same department, and more. An official policy can reduce misunderstandings or inconsistent treatment based on the manager or department.

Have written job descriptions

Having written job descriptions for every position, including those that are currently open for hiring, is one way to prevent accusations of nepotism in hiring relatives of current employees. Written job descriptions should outline the duties of the position as well as the prerequisites for application. If an employee’s relative is hired and meets the requirements, this can help to prevent accusations of favoritism in promotions.

Keep relatives separated at work

Keeping related employees apart at work is one way to handle working with them. This could be handled in a variety of ways depending on your sector and type of business. Allowing related employees to work in the same department without having one manage the other can be a policy if it makes sense for your business to do so. Instead, you could establish a policy prohibiting anyone with a relationship to another employee from working in the same department.

You can develop a policy and plan for how to handle the situation if anyone has concerns that is appropriate for your company. For instance, having a plan for what to do in the event that a couple of employees start dating, get married, and work in the same department is beneficial if your business has a rule against relatives working in the same department.

Avoid the appearance of nepotism

Avoiding even the appearance of nepotism within a company that hires relatives is among the most crucial things to do. Many employees may feel upset if they witness what they perceive to be nepotism, so it is not enough for them to simply avoid it. For instance, if a coworker’s spouse is hired and that coworker is close with the hiring manager, but a different coworker’s friend isn’t hired, the second coworker might feel that the hiring manager influenced their friend’s spouse rather than making a decision based on qualifications.

You can demonstrate to employees the policies that guided any decisions regarding hiring or promotions involving relatives by implementing policies that clearly state your company’s position on employee relationships, promotions, and hiring. The decision may still be unpopular with the staff, but if they feel there was a good reason for it, they will likely get over it more quickly.


What is it called when you hire a relative?

Favoritism exhibited toward acquaintances and family members is known as nepotism. Nepotism is the practice of using one’s authority or position to favor a family member without considering their qualifications or merit.

Can companies hire family members?

The employment of family members is entirely legal. However, it is a good idea to have strict policies in place that forbid any preferential treatment because nepotism (favoritism toward family members) can be a contentious issue in the workplace.

Is it ethical to hire family members?

Favoritism that prioritizes hiring a family member over a non-family member is referred to as nepotism. Although hiring family members is undoubtedly a contentious issue in business ethics, it isn’t always unethical.

What is it called when employers hire family?

Nepotism is the practice of giving family members or friends the benefit of the doubt when making hiring or financial decisions in the business world. Nepotism includes, for instance, giving favors or jobs to family members and friends without considering their qualifications.

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