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Employing Family Members - Any Rules?

(9 Posts)
Nepotism Wed 10-Apr-13 22:18:08

Name changed as I can't afford to lose my job if I'm outed - paranoid, I know.

I've worked for a family owned company for some years very happily. We've grown fast and been very successful and until recently it was a great place to work.

In the past year the owners have decided to employ their children in senior positions despite their total lack of qualifications and experience. They were not interviewed for the jobs, in fact the roles were created for them. My former excellent and experienced boss has had all his staff removed and given to the daughter. I now work for a woman half my age who has never worked in an office, has no managerial experience and knows nothing about the industry. She refuses point blank to ask for help, listen to advice and is totally disrespectful. If she doesn't like something/someone she whinges to her parents and gives them a very distorted view of events. Her brother turns up to work when he feels like it.

We are losing staff at an incredible rate but the owners are now calling it natural wastage and denying there is a problem. I fear the next step is that they will be made directors with even more power. I can't help feeling it's partly a tax dodge as I suspect they're on inflated salaries and I think the next step will be directorships.

Our HR manager says that all she can do is advise the owners but at the end of the day, it's their company.

Like everyone else, I'm looking for another job but there's not much around. Can anyone advise if there's anything the employees can do? It's so sad to see a formerly decent company go down the pan sad

floweryblue Thu 11-Apr-13 00:31:28

I work for my family business.

I took a few years out and I know that when my mother asked me to come back some people's noses were put out of joint.

I could see where things were going wrong because of my mother's lack of supervision and excessive trust, some members of staff taking advantage of their priviledges and massive overstaffing.

You may well be right in your situation, things may be going downhill because of inexperienced management/nepotism/excessive drawings. But it is also possible that you don't understand the full situation.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and if that includes putting inexperienced but cheap and fully dedicated staff in senior positions, that may be the way forward the business owners have chosen.

Natural wastage is a good way to avoid expensive redundancy payments.

The only thing I can suggest to you is that you try to talk things over with the business owner.

I know that some of the staff I manage now had problems with me and my attitude when I came back on board, they talked to my mother about it, she talked to me about it, we all talked to each other.

CabbageLeaves Thu 11-Apr-13 05:51:55

I think the key part of the OP for me is We've grown fast and been very successful and until recently it was a great place to work

That all sounds very positive. Absolutely sure the financial outcomes match your perception of successful? It might be that financial mismanagement means that an outwardly successful business is financially on its knees. So family might be fire fighting.

I get what flowery is saying but that is more true of a failing business. Doesn't sound like that is (was) the situation possibly.

How is the business doing now OP- (aside of it now not being a great place to work)

I think your HR is partially right. If the owners know what is happening and accept it, then the business will go in the direction they accept.

Your best direction as employee is to leave. Sorry

Mondrian Thu 11-Apr-13 06:04:06

Few questions. Are the owners also running the company? Is it a business they started? What is the size of the company?

lougle Thu 11-Apr-13 07:25:09

" My former excellent and experienced boss has had all his staff removed and given to the daughter."

Are you suggesting that your boss either sacked, or made redundant, staff specifically to make a space for his daughter?

That would be the only legal issue here. however, it still won't help you because it's a civil matter and the dismissed person would have to bring action, you couldn't do it.

Nepotism Thu 11-Apr-13 07:44:46

Lots of questions here!

All staff responsibility was removed from former boss - we now report to daughter. He is aware he probably has a case for constructive dismissal but has decided (as have many others) to try to find another job instead.

We have gone from a turnover of £2m to £20m in 3 yrs. We are likely to be back down to £2m this year because of the end of a big contract so I do wonder if treating people badly is a way of saving on redundancy.

The owners started the company but don't come in on a daily basis. I had a meeting with one where she ran down everyone except her family on the basis of what her daughter had told her. Dd was working in a bar before they put her in charge - there's no way she has the experience, qualifications or technical knowledge they would expect of anyone else. I'm horrified that they suddenly seem to have lost all business sense.

I think you're right have no option but to leave. We all had a great sense of loyalty to each other and the company, many have been here for 10/20 years but I think we have to move on.

flowery Thu 11-Apr-13 08:13:46

Other than the legal issue mentioned by lougle above, the only thing the staff can do is look to move elsewhere.

It is sad to see, and without knowing the reasons why, can be difficult to understand, but that's the route they've chosen to go.

Btw can I just make clear that the poster on this thread floweryblue is not me, in case anyone might be confused. smile

Mondrian Thu 11-Apr-13 10:15:53

I experienced something similar and have many friends & relatives who like me walked into the family business however I can not think of a single instance where a capable & trustworthy senior manager has been side stepped or dismissed to make room for the children. As far as the owners are concerned the business is like a child and either they feel very passionate about it or about the money it generates so why would they kill off something good?

I think there is more going on than the staff are aware, it could be some internal politics at senior level or perhaps the business plays a small part in a portfolio of companies and the owners are throwing the kids in at the shallowest part of their overall business portfolio to minimise losses in case of poor decisions.

Nepotism Thu 11-Apr-13 19:32:46

Good final point there, they do own another business which they've left well alone.

The senior manager's health has been an issue, mainly due to the stress at work. They have been totally unsympathetic and are totally money driven.

I have to accept that there's nothing I can do to change their attitude, I just need to get out.

Thanks all.

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