Employing family members

Minimising risks of employing family members


There can be risks to a business if it employs family members. These include:

  • non-family members feeling alienated or excluded
  • failure to recruit and retain experienced outsiders who could contribute effectively to the business' plans
  • the failure of business plans if senior management do not possess the right skills and experience
  • claims of discrimination against non-family members - see how to prevent discrimination and value diversity
  • succession planning not being adequately managed if non-family members or interests are excluded or inappropriate family members or interests are automatically included - see succession planning and business transfer
  • wasting money by paying a family member to do a job they are not suitable for and/or by giving them an undeserved promotion or pay rises - see staff pay and benefits for family members
  • domestic issues being brought into the workplace, preventing effective communication on business matters
  • bullying or harassment of other staff by family members - see preventing bullying and harassment

Minimising risks when employing family members

To avoid the employment of family members creating problems in the workplace, you should:

  • apply any appraisal system or other company policies and procedures equally to all staff - see managing staff performance
  • have senior positions held by a mixture of both family and non-family members
  • make sure that you do not give family members preferential treatment in relation to, for example, promotion or pay, as this may give rise to potential discrimination complaints

Remember that if you don't require family members to bring outside experience to your business, you cannot reasonably expect non-family members to do so.