15

From the Companies I've served, a common restriction is that:

a.) No relatives are allowed to work with you.(they will not hire you or let you maintain working for them) (Ie. Brothers, Cousins, Father and Son)

b.) No Lovers are allowed (to be hired/work with you) (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse)

Why is that? Office Distraction? I really don't think so. Are these principles only observed in the Philippines?

..my apologies if the reasons are obvious, to me they are not.

I edited the question as to be clear: it's both in hiring personnel and working with personnel, no relatives or lovers are allowed.

  • Hey op, do you mean that relatives can't visit you, or they cannot hire relatives or lovers? :O If they cannot hire, I do think this is against the law (at least here). If they cannot visit, it's company rules, and they can do so if they think that's wise. The company i work for has a "public space", where relatives can visit me, drop by, have a chat. It's inside the company, but not in the workspace. It would brother no one, and cause no confusions. – Hugo Rocha Jan 14 '14 at 11:42
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    Related question: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/657/… – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 14 '14 at 14:56
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    For the most part office settings are professional spaces and anyone visiting that is not there in a business capacity is a distraction or potential threat (by threat I don't mean violence, but stollen company information etc.). On the other hand, I have had my kids come to my office and sit quietly in the corner while waiting on me to take them somewhere, so the policy varies, but I think it has merit, and probably is related to something that happened at some point. – Bill Leeper Jan 14 '14 at 15:42
  • Are you saying that nobody is allowed in the office, not even close relatives? Or are you saying it's OK to invite in a casual acquaintance but that close relatives are forbidden? – DJClayworth Jan 14 '14 at 18:10
  • my apologies, I edited the question. – Malcolm Salvador Jan 15 '14 at 0:38
22

I've worked in offices where two employees went through a messy divorce or a bad breakup and that affected their ability to work together and affected the rest of team because of the poisonous atmosphere. Firther, we usually had to get rid of at least one to keep things working at all and that left a gap that others had to work overtime to fill.

I've worked in offices where the couple was happy but the senior one gave preference to their spouse or lover and the junior one often did not perform at a high enough level because they did not have to. Everyone else had to pick up the slack from the incompetent and there was much resentment. Even worse, the junior one is then often promoted to a job that the person is incapable of doing and not qualified for over the heads of people who are qualified to do the job. This created very much resentment and a totally poisonous atmosphere. The loss of productivity was truly awe-inspiring.

I've worked in offices where relatives got special treatment and benefits that their co-worker doing the same job did not including things like company cars, free lunches, extra time off.the good people abandoned this place in droves becasue it was obvious that if you were not related to the CEO or the company president, you were going nowhere.

Have I seen personal relationships work in the office. On occasion yes, but far fewer times than I have seen problems created. But they worked best when people worked in different departments or projects and where the people were roughly at the same level. They work worst when one person is the boss of the other.

  • Marking this as accepted. I can relate to the experiences you've cited (although it was back in college, when we do projects and activities for classes: I've had groupmates who are lovers with the man being the leader of the group), and the solution you have suggested is quite good. (at least make them the same level) – Malcolm Salvador Jan 15 '14 at 0:58
15

I haven't seen an absolute ban in the US, but I've seen guidelines on a similar vein. I've also been in huge companies, so just because two people where on the same campus, it did not mean that one could necessarily say they worked together.

Reasons I've heard and observed:

  • Nepotism is not easy to judge - there's a fine line between someone who gets selected, hired, or promoted because they collaborate well and are a good team player vs. someone who gets more done because of their personal connections. It can be really subtle and hard to prove and some companies would rather not get caught up in a debate with the more obvious cases.

  • You can't trust everyone to separate personal and professional - when people care about each other, then their behavior changes. A special relationship between two people can be awkward for those who are not part of this connection, and if there are issues coming up between the two people, then it can impact the whole work environment.

  • In a small team, group or company the impact of life events is bigger - in a small group, 1 person being out can be felt by the whole team. 2 people on a 4 man team is 50% of the group. You have to figure that in many personal relationships, major life events are shared - births, deaths, big celebrations, family vacations - and the company may not want to have to support too many cases of both people taking time off at the exact same time.

  • Shared Finances - close family members (and mileage varies by culture what "close" means) and spouses and even long term lovers share finances or have arrangements where both parties benefit when one of then gets a job or gets promoted. So there's a motivation beyond doing a friend a favor and getting a talented person into the company.

I've never seen a rule about friends - but I'd presume this is largely because not enough of these issues typically apply to friends. You can certainly have a really strong friendship where some of these points apply but I'd bet that this is not the norm for most friends, and the dividing line is too hard to judge - for example, when does a really great, fun to work with colleague stop being an "acquaintance" and start being a "friend"? Does the company want to miss the potential to recruit all your good colleagues because of this ambuguity? Probably not.

  • I wonder: Why prevent family and lovers but not friends? Surely a strong friendship could lead to just as many cases of "nepotism". – Luke Jan 16 '14 at 23:26
  • It's far less likely that you also have financial entanglements with friends. Good point, I'll add. – bethlakshmi Jan 17 '14 at 18:46
11

The company wants to avoid three things:

  1. Appearance of abuse of power
  2. Conflicts of interest
  3. Problems unrelated to work

Abuse of Power

Alice is a manager and Bob works beneath him. When it comes review time, Alice gives Bob a much larger raise than the other employees due to his work. If it is because Bob is Alice's husband, that is a problem. Even if it isn't, other employees may believe it is which will hurt morale.

On the flip side, Bob may be a great performer but Alice feels uncomfortable giving him an appropriate raise because it would look bad to the other employees. The company suffers because Bob is less satisfied with his job.

Even if Alice and Bob are working in separate departments at the same level, preventing a conflict in the future reduces the flexibility of the employer to assign the best people to the right positions if they want to avoid a situation where there could be the appearance of abuse of power.

Conflicts of Interest

Bob's boss just found a problem with the project that will cause serious losses for the company. Bob is assigned to find the cause of the problem. Bob knows that it was Alice who caused the problem, but is worried that if he tells his boss Alice may get fired. On one hand he wants to do a good job, but on the other hand he is worried about how they will make ends meet if Alice loses her job.

Perhaps Bob is a safety auditor who lets Alice know when the next safety audit will be on her department so she can sweep problems under the rug. Maybe Alice is in accounting and overlooks improperly filed expense reports because she trusts Bob meant nothing wrong. Companies would prefer to avoid situations where someone's motivations may get in the way of them doing the right thing.

Problems Unrelated to Work

Alice and Bob are the two key members of a project. Their child Chris is diagnosed with a terminal illness and is given two months to live. Both decide to take leave to spend that time with their child. Alternatively, they both go on a vacation together and have an unfortunate scuba accident killing them both. Or they go through a divorce and Bob files a restraining order against Alice making work together difficult impossible.

While work is a big part of life, so is family. If family members are working together, there is more chance that problems from one will bleed in to another, and they will become worse employees for it.

Not Limited to Family

Not only are these restrictions in place for family members, there are often workplace guidelines preventing employees from having relationships with each other for the same reasons.

Employers understand that not all family members will cause trouble, but if you are looking for rather painless ways to reduce risk in your company, preventing relationships and family members from working together is an easy choice to make.

  • I would very much love to accept this an accepted answer as well! – Malcolm Salvador Jan 15 '14 at 10:59
5

I dont know anything about the Phillipines but is it in terms of employing or just being in the office?

Generally, being a direct line manager of a family member is a cause for friction in a lot of companies and although may not be explicitly banned - is not necessarily looked kindly upon.

This is usually to prevent favourable treatment to reports from line managers and to prevent the other members of the team thinking that their manager is giving favourable treatment which can cause a very poisonous atmosphere to develop - it's worth mentioning, favourable treatment can be as subtle as someone getting information "over dinner" sooner than they ordinarily should.

  • Methinks that should not be the case. What if you perform well, in sync, with a kin? Shouldn't an office consist of productive people, and not those who thinks poisonously of others? – Malcolm Salvador Jan 14 '14 at 11:31
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    You don't think that favourable treatment between a line manager and a subordinate has the potential to alienate the rest of the team? There's also the flip side, when home problems come into the office can also cripple the project - it quite simply, is a risk with very little upside. – Michael Jan 14 '14 at 11:35
3

When private life and work life overlap, there is a risk of personal problems spilling over into work life. For example, when a couple breaks up, it could endanger the project they have been working on together. I think this is the main reason that some companies discourage relationships between co-workers.

1

The question is quite broad. Why does an employer restrict access depends on quite a few factors. I'll try to list out a few:

  • Many companies try to avoid overlap of family and business due to the fear of business getting affected.
  • Security of the data involved. If your company deals with sensitive data of customers, allowing your close ones to your workspace will be a risky one. Although the employer trusts you, trusting someone close to you might not come easily.
  • Sometimes customers mandate the employer that they need to ensure certain specific standards. Eg: BT(British Telecom) has very strict guidelines for all the companies which deal with the data involving BT.
  • There are many occasions where a customer of your employer might directly visit your office to carry out a business. During these times, many employers are super sensitive to the image they project. This makes many take precautions. One of them is to eliminate any external factor which is outside the control of the employer.

Regarding your question if this is specific to Philippines, no. This isn't. This is a feature found across the globe.

1

One of the reasons is to avoid liability. If one person is considered to be in a position of power over another, and an outside-of-work relationship develops, should the relationship deteriorate the company may be found liable in a frivolous lawsuit suggesting that the under-employee felt their job security required they enter the relationship.

  • This sounds a bit extreme, to me it seems petty that the couple would include the company as a reason for their troubles. Why undermine everyone else in the company when it's a problem between you guys? – Malcolm Salvador Jan 15 '14 at 0:51
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    I had one job where this was explained to me during the new employee process. Relationships were ok as long as neither party was above the other in the organizational chart, and that this could lead to limits in advancement because an advancement up the chain may cause a policy violation. I don't know if this is because they were victim to problems previously, or due to an abundance to caution, but it is one reason some employers have such rules. – Adam Davis Jan 15 '14 at 4:39

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