I work for a very small company: 4 employees including myself. We recently let go of our warehouse person. My customer service mentioned to me her boyfriend was unemployed and still looking for work. I simply replied back that it would be a conflict having her boyfriend work with us and made light of the situation saying it would be awkward if he wasn’t a good employee.

She sent my boss the resume, and my boss forwarded it to me. My boss has left it up to me to make the decision and had mentioned if she knew I felt that way she would have never agreed to look at the resume.

What do I do now? I don’t want to hire him as i don’t agree with working with significant others. Perhaps if I had a larger group of employees maybe but it would be just the 3 of us most of the time.

  • 1
    The personality and the age of the couple is very important. Light-minded young couple are likely to bring a mess into your company. Mature, calm and experienced couple can be even more efficient. Did she really consider the consequences of working with her boyfriend? Most people are not really prepared for that...
    – P.Manthe
    Nov 29, 2018 at 5:42
  • 4
    I don't like your edit. Your 1-line question is now too broad (imo) and invalidates many of the answers that have already been given and voted on.
    – Time4Tea
    Dec 1, 2018 at 14:18

5 Answers 5


Simply don't interview/hire the boyfriend

My boss has left it up to me to make the decision and had mentioned if she knew I felt that way she would have never agreed to look at the resume.

Your boss has your back on this one. Just stick to your guns and hire someone else.

If you feel your current employee would be receptive, you can explain the dangers of working with family or significant others. You're under no obligation to do this, and I'd only do it if you feel your employee would take it well.

  • Why the downvote? Sounds like a perfectly cromulent answer to me.
    – Mawg
    Nov 28, 2018 at 11:17
  • Perhaps I should have mentioned many companies have HR rules preventing significant others from working together. Nov 28, 2018 at 14:43

I think you should interview him and hire ONLY on the basis of his qualifications and interview performance.

If he fails, you do not have a conflict.

If he passes, then may be you should think if it is that important to go by how you feel at the cost of not hiring a good employee and making another employee unhappy.

You can consider making some adjustments to your own reservations and give them a chance that they can work professionally and make a great team.

In summary, do not make a decision either ways based on their relationship with another employee and your own thoughts about whether couple should work together or not. Be objective in your interview process and make a decision which is right for the company without assuming that couples cannot be in the same team.

  • There are actual reasons not to hire significant others to work in the same place. For example, if they break up, it's likely to suddenly mean they don't cooperate with each other. In the light of that, could you explain why you think it should play no part in the decision? Nov 28, 2018 at 22:55
  • @DavidThornley these are actual reasons to not hire any human being.. they all can go through some personal or emotional issues effecting work. Why assume negative? Why not instead look at the bright side of having a happy couple working for you
    – PagMax
    Nov 28, 2018 at 23:56
  • 1
    @PagMax There are reasons beyond the breakup scenario. For example, if two people in the workplace start conspiring to oust another, it's a lot harder to manage. I worked in a deeply family controlled mid sized business once, children got senior positions without the burden of attending work, divorces created needs to create new departments, marriages meant that new sons-in-law were given roles beyond their capabilities. It's not pretty, but many will align with the people they live with before aligning for the good of the company.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 29, 2018 at 23:28
  • @EdwinBuck fair point. Hence I am asking OP to decide based on qualifications and not on relationship.
    – PagMax
    Nov 30, 2018 at 0:49
  • @PagMax Even qualified people place their qualified children side-stepping due process of other potentially more qualified personnel (at potentially lower wages). Even qualified people get married, and even qualified people get divorces. Even qualified people skip work when no repercussions can be enforced. Even qualified people tend to align with the people they live with before aligning for the good of the company. I don't see how your focus on "qualification" even addresses the issues being raised.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 30, 2018 at 0:55

You made light of the situation, meanwhile her boyfriend is without money and without a job. I bet “making light” didn’t go down well.

Decide whether employing a couple is a security risk, based on objective criteria, not on your private opinion. Decide whether one of them is responsible to supervise the other and might not do their job properly because of the relationship. If you expect inappropriate behaviour, that’s what probation is ther for. Then tell the customer service person your objective decision, and no jokes please.

And in an interview, you judge that person like you would any other.

  • 2
    Significant others should never be in a position where one is directly or indirectly reporting to the other. Nobody will be able to figure out whether decisions are based on good or romantic reasons. I'd worry about what would happen if they broke up, which is not something you'll find out about in a probationary period. Nov 28, 2018 at 22:59

Ask you boss what happens if one of them gets a new job? Does she really want to lose half the workforce at the same time, in such a small company?

Also, while going behind your back is somewhat understandable, it is not acceptable workspace behavio(u)r, and she needs to be told so in no uncertain terms.

My boss has left it up to me to make the decision and had mentioned if she knew I felt that way she would have never agreed to look at the resume.

Either way, your employee has put you in awkward position. You can refuse to interview, or interview and don't offer, but she will still be upset, and your relationship will suffer.

Can you very quickly find and accept another candidate?


Unless you have some policies in place regarding office romances you'll have a hard time justifying not interviewing this guy.

It looks like a lose-lose scenario as it stands.

If you interview him and not hire him you could lose your customer support. If you don't interview him you might lose her anyway.

If you go ahead and interview and hire him and later change your mind you'll lose your customer support.

It's a sticky situation but your best bet might be to go ahead and hire him and hope for the best.

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