Nepotism (Hiring of Relatives) Policy

Policy Statement

Duke staff may not hire or supervise their relatives. Exceptions to this policy are made by the Vice President of Human Resources for Duke University - or from his or her designee.

Policy Details

It is the intent of Duke that staff not be involved in decisions affecting the employment of individual members of their immediate or extended families. In exceptional cases where the relative clearly demonstrates to have unique and unusual skills necessary for the position and these skills are not readily available in the labor market, a waiver may be requested. When such conditions exist, a written request for a waiver must be submitted.

The waiver must have the support of the senior administrator (department head, operating officer, etc.) of the employing department, the entity (school, hospital, administrative unit), and the School/Division Human Resources Office. Final approval of all requests for a waiver is granted by the Vice President of Human Resources (or to his or her designee) and such approval must be received, in writing, prior to making an employment offer or granting a transfer. A request for wavier is also required within 30 days of a relationship change (e.g. marriage) or a change in an individual’s employment/supervisory status that creates direct supervision of individual members of immediate or extended family members.

In cases where a waiver has been approved, an individual may be in a position to effect personnel actions (such as initial employment, retention, promotion, salary, work assignments, leaves of absence, etc.) affecting members of that staff member’s immediate and extended family with a management plan approved by the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance.

For the purpose of this policy, "immediate family" includes the spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, step-parents, step-children, step-brothers, and step-sisters of staff. "Extended family" includes the grandparents, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, and great-grandparents of staff. The Consensual Relationship policy also prohibits employees from participating in supervision, employment actions, evaluation, promotion, or the direct setting of salary or wages of an employee with whom that person has or has had a Consensual Relationship.

In cases where spouses are employed in the same department or unit, neither may serve as judge nor advocate for the other.

Staff and faculty may not employ their children or their spouse to work for them through Duke – regardless of whether they are paid from Duke funds or grants or employed in regular, temporary or internship/fellowship roles. Spouses or family members may be employed as collaborators in subsidized research projects if a request for waiver has been approved.

In some instances, Duke’s policy of preserving the confidentiality of records or other materials may make it inappropriate to have a member of the immediate or additional family of another staff member in a particular job at Duke. For example, it is usually inappropriate for someone to hold a job providing access to confidential records concerning the performance of a member of the staff member's immediate or additional family.

The conditions will also apply if two staff members become related through marriage after they have been employed by Duke.

Policy Number: 02.05


Recruitment, Hiring, & Transferring Policy