Employing of Close Relatives by the Same Organization
Does the employment married couples at the same organization pose a risk to their effectiveness or corruption?
The first bureaucracies we know of developed in Mesopotamia and in Egypt. Criticism of bureaucracy is most probably as old as bureaucracy itself, being that throughout history people seemed to constantly complain about it. During socialism, however, criticism of bureaucracy was one of the rare forms of criticism which was not only allowed by the authorities of the time but also encouraged. There is no shortage of such complaints among archival records as well.
In July 1963, the Office for Applications and Complaints at the Executive Board of Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, received a letter by a “concerned citizen”, who expressed his concern over increase in corruption risk in public administration, because a married couple had been employed at the same organizational unit. The complaining citizen also called for legal regulation of such issues and the Office instructed the Republic Secretariat for Budget and General Administration of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia to verify the statements, expressed in his complaint, and to pass their judgement on the matter in question.
In its reply to the Office, the Secretariat stated that they were familiar with that particular case and that regulations did not prohibit close relatives from being employed by the same agency. They believed that such family relations might have a detrimental effect on work itself, and might also create distrust, often unfounded, among the citizens in regard to the work of a certain agency. The Secretariat promised to investigate the case and make statement on the collective issue, as well as propose passing of a suitable regulation or recommendation for such cases.
As promised, the following month the Secretariat sent a circular to district assembles and to sixteen larger municipal assemblies. In the circular, the Secretariat asked the addressees to provide data on employment of close relatives in their own organizations or in the administration of any of their field-related institutions. Close relatives were defined as “persons who are blood related in a direct line, or in collateral line for relatives who are up to four times removed, or up to twice removed in-laws ”. Secretariat also asked the addressees to express their opinion on “whether employing relatives at the same agency has had a negative effect on the job itself and which jobs or job relations should never employ persons who are related”. Another question asked was “whether they noticed any irregularities in performance of their work due to employment of such family relations and whether they had ever faced criticism or disapproval from the public due to such employments”.
By the start of November 1963, district and municipal assemblies sent in their replies. Providing summarised information and (in some cases) even names of relatives employed by the same organizations, most of the assemblies in their reports stated that they had not seen any “negative” effects of such employments, but they did agree that “family relations among the employees are often criticized and distrusted by other citizens, even if such criticism is unfounded”.
In general, it was believed that “close relatives should not be employed by the same organization, if:
- they are superior to their relative. Such situations might lead a superior employee to indulge his subordinate relations, there might be a certain lack of control, which may result in the neglect of work duties, tolerance of various otherwise unacceptable behaviour, illegal increase in personal income through granting of various fees, and irregularities in disciplinary procedures;
- they are employed in relation decision maker-financial officer. This is prohibited based on Article 89 of the Act on Budgets and Independent Institutions Funding (Official Journal of Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, no. 52/59). To exclude every, even unfounded, distrust in business, some institutions even suggest that close relatives should not be employed in financial departments or occupy posts that involve greater material liability of the employee. Others believe that employment of relatives should only be restricted when it comes to management positions.
- they are close relatives employed in the same department of a medical institution or employed for important medical posts, where liability is directly bound (such as head of department and head nurse, surgeon and operating room nurse). Such relations could lead to covering up responsibility, biased on-call scheduling, negligence in patient care etc.”
As we can see from the received replies, addressees most frequently reported cases of “married couples being employed at the same school, especially in the countryside, which is inevitable and even convenient, since this also solves accommodation issue.”
It would be senseless to prohibit such employments, since there were obviously some positive factors involved in it. Based on the received reports, the Republic Secretariat for Budget and General Administration of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia in its final draft (the final, confirmed version of the document has not been preserved) suggested to the Office for Applications and Complaints at the Executive Board of Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia that questions of this matter should be solved by federal act or by republic regulations, which must include the following provision: ”Married couples or persons related in a direct or collateral line twice removed should not be employed in relation superior-subordinate employee at the same agency .” This provision, however, did not apply to school teachers.