Referring A Son Can Get Messy

Q: I recently referred my son to a position within my
company. The position is working for one of 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.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.