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I want to know why, when applying to some companies, they ask if we have any person of blood relation or any relatives in their organization.

Why does it matter?

Would an uncle count as a blood relation or simply family?

Update - There's one more question: They also ask if I have any relatives or blood relation working for the government. Again, is this normal? A person's extended family can be large, and it might be difficult to know the profession/place of employment of each relative.

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    I believe it has to do with nepotism, unfair treatment if your unlce is in any way your superior, there's a chance he will favor you over other employees even if you don't deserve the favor. A lot of companies like to try and protect themselves from this any way they can. – New-To-IT Nov 25 '15 at 14:29
  • But as the updated question speaks, its difficult to know profession of each and every blood relation/relative. – Techidiot Nov 25 '15 at 14:35
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    @Bhush_Techidiot If you honestly don't know for sure, you might qualify your answer, as in "No, to the best of my knowledge, I have no blood relatives working here.". – Brandin Nov 25 '15 at 14:38
  • That's fine with me. But, not sure about why a relative is into Govt job matters. – Techidiot Nov 25 '15 at 14:45
  • You should be very careful with this one. It is almost certainly a legal requirement that the company inquire and that you diligently determine the answer. Please see my answer. – Jim Nov 25 '15 at 15:31
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There are several reasons, but none of the answers so far list the most important: legal obligations and disclosures.

For large companies (and sometimes medium or even small companies) with government contracts, public shares, contests or legal disclosure requirements to other companies (partners, clients, etc.) your blood relations - and their places of employment - can have a legal impact on the contracts, contests, disclosures, etc.

For example, if you have an uncle that works in the aerospace industry and you get a job with a government contractor. During your employment, your employer may ask you if you are available to work on a contract that you then tell your uncle about during a holiday family event. Harmless as it may have been intended, for all you know you just gave away significant information to a potential competitor for the contract, which can be illegal. You could even end up in jail for something you did not know was illegal (how often have people "claimed" that they didn't know??).

Or you are trying to get work on a the distribution line of a new tech product, and your aunt just "happens" to be the purchasing manager for the public company that your company will be supplying. Get the point?

There are other reasons (such as nepotism or general interest), but it is very unlikely the company is trying to determine your actual genealogy or actually cares if you have family members "helping" you get the job or whatever else you might imagine. They are most likely just trying to cover their legal requirements.

If you are unsure of what they consider a "relative" then ask them. If you do not disclose it to them (because it's "too hard to know" or you thought it didn't matter) and it later becomes a problem, you could end up in very hot water... not limited to just losing your job.

18

In human resource management there is an anti-pattern called nepotism. It means that people in leadership positions prefer to fill positions below them with people from their own family instead of strangers who are objectively more qualified.

People who practice this are often accused of putting the interests of their family above the interests of their organization and making sub-optimal personnel decisions. For that reason, larger organizations try to actively avoid nepotism. A common practice is by prohibiting people from being involved in career decisions which involve their relatives.

Whether or not your uncle working for the same company matters depends on the policy of the company. Maybe they would only care when he would be your future boss, maybe him having any leadership position could be a problem. Should he have a non-leadership position without authority (and you are also hired for a non-leadership position) it might not matter, but they might still not want to put you and your uncle into positions where you have a lot of interaction, because your family relation might bleed into your work relation. All of that depends on the company.

The question about your relatives working for the government might also be related to any local anti-corruption laws aiming to fight nepotism of government officials. These laws might aim to prevent government-officials from giving government contracts to companies where their relatives work instead of other companies which would do better work for less tax-payer money. Such laws can often be worked around if the company and the government institution are aware of any family ties. In that situation there are often steps which can be taken to acknowledge the possible conflict of interest and document how the decision was made (details vary depending on jurisdiction). So a relative of you working for the government might not be a deal-breaker, but something the company needs to be aware of.

Before you provide any information about names, professions and employers of your relatives, you might want to check your local employment and privacy laws. Depending on where in the world you work, these questions might be anywhere between required by law or illegal to protect your relatives privacy and protect you from discrimination. If such questions are legal in your jurisdiction, not answering them truthfully might be considered reason for immediate termination.

8

I think the answer is that "blood is thicker than water"

I.e. between people that are related might impose a conflict of interest with respect to decisions with people that are not related.

  • Can you include an answer for my updated question? I can agree with this one. – Techidiot Nov 25 '15 at 14:44
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    There's also the question of conflict of interest in hiring specifically: eg if you're related to someone in HR, the company will often want to know – Jon Story Nov 25 '15 at 16:09
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    Fun fact: the original version of this saying (The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb) is actually stating that the opposite is true. – MikeTheLiar Nov 25 '15 at 19:48
  • +1 this pretty much hits the nub of the matter, conflict of interest is the main reasoning. – Kilisi Nov 26 '15 at 4:50

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