Keeping it in the family

They say never work with children or animals, but what about family?

After all, if you can’t trust your family, who can you trust?

Although it’s often found in businesses such as shops, restaurants and funeral homes and obviously works very well, there are the odd cases where hiring a family member can be messy.

Family feuds can spill into the workplace or work can test family ties. Often employers will find it hard to discipline them if they commit misconduct, deal with their grievances or manage personality clashes with other employees.

So what can you do to make sure harmony reigns professionally?

1  Make things clear from the outset

Make sure that there is clarity in regards to:

  • pay, management and ownership
  • role
  • expectations
  • business strategy
  • reporting lines
  • what happens if things don’t work out

Getting it clear from the beginning can avoid explosive arguments further down the line.

2  Avoid blatant special treatment

When you hire family members, you should keep clear of any ‘preferential treatment’ in relation to pay, working conditions, career development and how you deal with employee issues.

Nobody wants to hear staff say things like ’oh he can get away with being late a few times a week because he is the boss’s son’ or ‘how did she get that promotion if she has virtually no experience?’

If the family member’s timekeeping is poor, you should deal with it in accordance with your disciplinary procedure. If there is a promotion opening, you should select the best candidate based on their merits. It’s in your business’ best interests that the person with the right skills, experience and qualifications is fulfilling the role.

Your HR policies and procedures are there for everyone and you should apply them fairly and consistently across your whole business. Family ties are not one of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act and therefore an employee may not be able to submit a claim for discrimination on this basis, but if you dismiss one employee and not another for the same offence, then an Employment Tribunal is likely to consider this to be unfair.

Apart from the risk of litigation, open displays of nepotism or favouritism can cause tensions within teams, lower morale and productivity and cause people to leave.

3  There are working time restrictions for children and younger workers

The youngest a child can work is 13, unless they have a performance licence and are working in TV, theatre or modelling. They can only work full-time if they have reached the minimum school leaving age.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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