An employee referral program with restrictions

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Q:  I shared my daughter’s resume with my current employer.  The role is in another department, and we have thousands of employees.  I may be biased but my daughter would be the perfect candidate.  I was told by HR that she could work in the company, but it has to be a different department because my daughter and I would have the same supervisor (if she were hired).  The problem is that my current supervisor oversees several different departments within several different divisions.  Why does a company have an employee referral program but restricts where a relative can work?  I don’t think my last two companies had such a policy.  All I hear about is how tight the recruitment market is and we can’t find qualified people.

A: There are many companies, across the US, which have guidelines and policies which limit the employment of relatives.  Many of the policies prohibit immediate relatives from working too closely together.  Some policies will discourage immediate relatives from working within the same department or the same division or business unit.  There are also sometimes policies which prohibit an employee from being related to a director supervisor, a senior manager or a board member.  Sometimes there are exceptions to these rules, like when a company is hiring 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 and your daughter in an awkward situation.  What if your supervisor has to discipline your daughter?  Or what if your supervisor thinks your daughter is outstanding and wants to promote her?  Will others assume it is because of the familial relationship?  Or what is your daughter shares information with you that she 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 for certain positions, as requested by your company.  There may be other roles, which may be appropriate for your daughter.  Think about exploring those vs. the roles which are off-limits according to your company’s policy.

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

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