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3. This document states the University's policy where personal and professional relationships overlap. It aims to ensure that individual members of staff act with propriety, and without bias, abuse of authority or conflict of interest in executing their professional duties and that they do not lay themselves open to allegations that they have acted unprofessionally in this regard.

The policy sets out a framework and gives clear guidance to members of staff who work closely with relatives in order to:

  • Ensure that members of staff are treated fairly, equitably and without bias.
  • Ensure that members of staff know when to declare any conflicts of interest when working with relatives.
  • Prevent against potential instances of unprofessional behaviour such as favouritism, nepotism and unfair conduct.
  • Ensure that decisions made about members of staff or potential members of staff are made without prejudice, with impartiality and sound judgement and are defendable under the strictest scrutiny.

The guiding principles of this policy are:

  • Members of staff should not be placed, nor place themselves, in a situation where others might reasonably believe that there has been or could be a conflict of interest or improper conduct.
  • Members of staff should feel that they are treated fairly, equitably and without bias.
  • The University is not brought into disrepute and does not suffer reputational damage by improper conduct of its employees.

Recruitment of Relatives

3.1.1 Members of staff are required to declare an interest if they are involved in the recruitment process where an applicant is a relative. No member of staff may be involved in the recruitment process where a relative is a candidate.

3.1.2 Members of staff should not solely conduct an interview process where their line manager is a relative of a candidate. They may however be part of a panel of assessors, provided they have declared the reporting relationship to that panel.

Working with Relatives in the same Institution

3.2.1 Ideally, there should not be a line management relationship between relatives, whether it is direct or indirect. This includes making decisions and being involved with carrying out any HR processes e.g. appraisals, grievances or disciplinary cases, training and development, promotion or decisions involving pay.

3.2.2 If a person is appointed to a post that is managed by a relative, the relationship should be declared and the situation reviewed in consultation with the relevant HR Business Manager or Adviser. Where possible, alternative management arrangements should be put in place. This may include changing reporting relationships or potentially changing location.

3.2.3 If it is not possible to identify alternative arrangements, an independent Senior Manager should have oversight of any decisions as described in 3.2.1.

3.2.4 If a member of staff believes they have been placed in a difficult situation because they are required to work with a relative or because of colleagues working with a relative, they have a responsibility to raise the issue with an appropriate line manager.

3.2.5 There may be occasions when members of staff receive/have access to confidential information regarding a relative. As with any data, this information must be treated as strictly confidential in line with the Data Protection Act. Managers should make every effort to avoid a situation where a conflict of interest could arise.

Relationships between Existing Staff

3.3.1 Where relationships already exist or a relationship develops after appointment that may lead to a conflict of interest or which may potentially affect or overlap with a professional relationship the relationship must be declared to a line manager at the earliest opportunity.

3.3.2 The line manager will consult with HR and consideration will be given to the appropriate action which may need to be taken. It is recommended that alternative management arrangements will be put in place where possible. These could include changing reporting relationships or individuals changing their job.

Bringing Dependants into the Workplace

3.4.1 It is the responsibility of members of staff to ensure adequate childcare/care arrangements are in place whilst they are at work. However, it is recognised that there may be occasions where childcare/care arrangements fail and a member of staff may have to bring their dependant(s) into work in order to cancel prior engagements or make any necessary handover arrangements.

3.4.2 It is not acceptable for a member of staff to bring his or her child/dependent into work with the intention of continuing their normal work.

3.4.3 Dependants may accompany their parent or carer on a brief visit to their work place provided it is with the agreement of their manager, unless such a visit would expose them to health and safety risks in that particular environment. In cases where a dependant does accompany a member of staff, the member of staff is responsible for the welfare of the dependant and must minimise disruption to the normal flow of work.

3.4.4 Members of staff who have an agreement to work from home should ensure they have adequate childcare/care arrangements in place during the period they are working at home.

Provision of Work Experience for Relatives and Youth Placements

3.5.1 Members of staff should not offer paid work experience or youth placement opportunities to relatives. Such recruitment should operate through the proper channels including the Intern Scheme and employment through TES.