We work in a small team. Of the 7 people in our team, 2 are relatives of our boss. Our boss owns the whole business.

Because we're a small team, we have to be careful about annual leave. Our team is already short-staffed so if two people are off at once it can cause real problems. Usually other staff have to adjust their hours to cover the absences on the rare occasions we have two off. Any annual leave requests have to be ran through our manager (who reports directly to boss), and she has to give permission for it to go through. It's then my job to create a working rota for the team.

Our boss has said to me on more than one occasion that he would like staff to give 6 month's notice of annual leave. I've attempted to persuade him to be more lenient, as most people can't plan that far ahead. So far the understanding is that a few weeks notice would be given for planned annual leave which would allow me time to create the rota (and possibly organise staff and cover.)

However, Relative 1 decided one week in advance to take a day off for annual leave. This is problematic because:

  1. She didn't ask the manager, just marked her name up on the holiday board

  2. I only get time alloted to work on the rota once a week, which would have fallen on the day before her annual leave, and in this case due to a bank holiday doesn't technically fall till next week, 6 days after the event

  3. Because of said bank holiday on the previous day this particular day is set to be particularly busy, and we already have one staff member off on annual leave, which would have been the maximum the manager would likely have allowed.

Now I've learned by text that Relative 2 is taking a day off this week (not the same day thankfully!) and she specifically said its because the boss has booked a family event. He hadn't mentioned this to me or to the manager, and in fact the relative seemed to have been unaware of it till now. So again bypassing the protocol of checking with the manager, we have someone else taking annual leave on the same day that another staff member is off, and with me not alloted time to create the changed rota until after the event.

Needless to say, this is very inconvienent, and frustrating! My question is.. do I speak to my boss about this? As he is the boss, I assume he has the right to breach his own protocol, and to allow his family to do the same, but the rest of the team will surely begrudge the special treatment, and begrudge having to do cover at such short notice. Should I shrug it off or should I defend my team?

  • 4
    Possible duplicate of Is there an effective way of dealing with nepotism at work?
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 20:26
  • I think the questions are similar but not duplicates. I like @motosubatsu's answer, and it's how I would respond. I've dealt with nepotism before, and there's not much an outsider can do when the president /CEO is in the family.
    – Dan Wilson
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 20:32
  • Is your boss going to be off on the family event day too?
    – Sandra K
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 13:38
  • 3
    Couldn't you look at this as an opportunity? This is further evidence that the 6 month in advance notice for vacation is not reasonable... even the boss's own family cannot make it work. You could always save this example for the next time the boss thinks about reintroducing that idea.
    – user48276
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 15:26
  • Or at least make the longer lead time only for a week or more of time off. Everybody has thing that don't have six months lead time like having to go to traffic court or a friend's funeral or a car that needs repair etc.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 18:22

4 Answers 4


Honestly I think you're just going to have to live with it - it's not fair, but then fairness is not a concept that exists in the workplace anyway.

Nepotism like this is exceptionally common when people in positions of authority have family members working with them - there's nothing you can really do about it and it would generally be considered highly career limiting to try so you need to either learn to live with it or move on if you can't.

  • 11
    Yes, these are not colleagues, they are special, do not expect them to be treated the same.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 22:13
  • 9
    Wait until you meet the super spoiled grandson of a super successful CEO. Staying out of the way is the best advice.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 1:38
  • 1
    +1 This is the most polite phrasing of "Suck it up, buttercup" I have ever seen Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 12:36

What does you boss need to know? He/She needs to know about the problem this may cause.

It's not so much relevant for why there is a shortage but that there is a shortage. Briefly inform him that on that day you will need to shift some work, and (depending on the nature of the business) customers will have to wait/not be served, a project will be delivered late, deadlines will be missed etc...

Be specific about it so that he can estimate the impact. It sounds like he is not only the boss but also the owner of the company, so he can make up his mind if loosing a customer or paying fees is worth it.


You kind of answered the question yourself: "Our boss owns the whole business". If he were just a manager, not the owner, you could complain to the owners, the board or union I guess. If he is wise though, he should think about (or be given hints about) how special treatment affect the work environment and ultimately the profitability of the business.


The right thing to do is tell the boss "relative #1 and relative #2 are taking days off at really inconvenient times. There is so little notice given that it affects the businesss, and it definitely affects the other employees. If I just accept it, we will eventually lose employees who know their job well, and the company will lose money. So what do you want me to do? "

Edit: I can't see how anybody can read this as "threatening that employees will be leaving". It's common sense that if some employees have to pay the price for the bosses' favoritism, then they will be unhappy with their jobs and will look for a job elswhere where this doesn't happen.

If you informa the boss (company owner) that the actions of his relatives damage the business, and the boss who is Ok with the relatives damaging the business, then there is not much you can do. Obviously if you are working for a business that is badly run, that is bad for your job prospects, and it's not enjoyable anyway, so it might be a good idea if you look for job elsewhere.

Totally different is the "boss" is just a manager. In that case, allowing behaviour that damages the business means he is not doing his job, and every one affected should complain to the level above the "boss" if complaining to the boss doesn't help.

  • 1
    How do you know that he will lose employees? Nothing in the OP indicates others are threatening to leave. I think going to the boss with such threat would backfire.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 14:11
  • Don't underestimate how much familial relationships can blind people, even in the face of good business sense. You don't have to look hard to find many examples where people have gone to the level of covering up serious crimes to protect relatives, heck some will even commit serious crimes themselves to protect relatives. Complaining to the owner of the company about his relative's behavior over something as (relatively) trivial as an inconvenient leave request or two is never going to end well for the OP, there is a reason why we have the old adage about blood being thicker than water.
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 17:16
  • I agree with @Dan that threatening the boss with employee departure is a bad idea, but otherwise I concur with the jist of this answer. It sounds like the relatives are doing this without speaking to the boss first, so informing the boss of this fact and detailing the reasons its inconvenient is the correct course. Don't make any threats, just inform them of the problem, and take action as directed. Choosing to leave yourself is always an option if you don't like the boss's answer, but no need to bring that up now.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 20:58
  • I don't know whether I'd classify your original language as "threatening", but I do think you're overstating the certainty of someone becoming aggrieved enough to leave. Maybe rephrase as "we could" instead of "we will", or phrase it in terms of "risk".
    – brian_o
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 16:23

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