Tips for Hiring a Family Member as an Employee

workmeeting.jpgThere is a familiar saying that it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Personal connections can be valuable, which is why many business owners in Minnesota may consider hiring a family member.

Hiring a family member is not a decision to be made lightly. As one article notes, there are numerous pros and cons for hiring family. However, if you do decide to take on a family member as an employee, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself, your business, and your familial relationships.

  1. Get everything in writing. Hiring a family member is just like hiring any other employee, even though you might already have a sense of trust in place. This means using written employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and/or noncompete agreements, if appropriate. Make sure he or she has the same employee handbook as everyone else, too. Having this information in writing (receipt acknowledged) allows you to cover your legal bases, ensures your family member knows the rules, and knows that those rules apply to everyone–even family. Few things hinder workplace morale more than the appearance of one employee being treated differently and better.
  2. Clearly explain your expectations. As an employer, it is up to you to tell your employees what they need to do and where they can go for help. This is the same for any worker, family member or not. This means properly classifying the worker, providing an accurate job description, and explaining the penalties for violating the rules in the workplace. Defining your expectations makes it easier for people to meet them. It can also make it easier for you if you must take action for misconduct or poor performance.
  3. Separate personal and business matters. Setting boundaries is critical in preventing personal and business relationships from adversely affecting each other. You might have your family member report to a different person or limit work talk to the office. You should also think twice before allowing your family member to be overly casual with you in the office if other employees do not act similarly.

Hiring anyone is a big responsibility for any business owner, and disputes between employees and employers can be painful and costly. When an employee is a relative, the fallout of a dispute can be even greater. As such, a pro-active approach to avoiding conflict only serves to make your business stronger.