Employment of Relatives
Article IV of Chapter 192 of the Toronto Municipal Code sets out the provisions with respect to Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality. These provide guidance to members of the public service in balancing their professional and personal interests. This helps preserve the public’s trust in Toronto’s government and promotes transparency and accountability. The TPS By-law Conflict of Interest provisions replace the City’s existing Conflict of Interest Policy, with some minor changes. All members of the public service, including City and applicable agency employees should understand their roles and responsibilities under the Toronto Public Service By-law’s Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality provisions.
This policy applies to all employees.
For the purposes of this policy, relative is defined as:
- spouse, any person to whom the person is married or with whom the person is living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage
- parent, including step-parent and legal guardian
- child, including step-child
- sibling and children of siblings
- father/mother-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, son/daughter-in-law
- any family member who lives with the employee on a permanent basis
No relatives are permitted to work together if this places them in a supervisory relationship, either in a subordinate or supervisory role to each other.
A supervisory relationship is an employment relationship where one relative has direct or indirect authority over a relative’s employment through decisions, recommendations or judgments related or influence to:
- the approval/denial of increments/performance pay
- the assignment and approval of overtime
- the negotiation of salary level
- the conduct of performance appraisals discipline
- the assignment or direction of work assignments
- the approval of leaves of absence
A supervisory relationship exists even though there are levels of supervision in between two employees who are relatives.
Employees must declare a conflict to the division head when a family relationship develops that puts them in a supervisory relationship.
Recruitment and appointment
A situation may arise through external recruitment or internal promotion/transfer/acting assignments/superior duties where the successful candidate could be a relative of an employee:
- already within the same work unit
- or within a work area where any form of direct or indirect supervision would exist over a relative
Candidates/employees must tell the hiring panel if placement in the position they have applied for would put them in a supervisory relationship with a relative.
If such a situation arises, the human resources representative and the hiring manager must inform the division head in order to determine if the appointment of an employee could be perceived as a potential conflict of interest.
Example of situations which may lead to conflicts of interest related to the employment of relatives include one employee having direct or indirect authority concerning:
- hiring decisions
- renewal of contracts
- performance evaluation
- disciplinary procedures
- salary considerations
- access to leave
- approval of expenses
This list describes several situations but is not all encompassing. There may be other situations where a conflict may potentially exist.
If the division head decides the hiring/transfer would result in, or has the potential to result in, a conflict of interest, a candidate will not be hired or be permitted to transfer into work areas in which a relative is currently employed.
An employee must not participate in any part of the selection process where a relative is an applicant. The selection process includes screening applications, interviews and reference checking.
When employees who are related are aware that they are working in positions that put them in a supervisory relationship with each other they must declare this situation to their division head in writing.
When a situation arises where an employee is in a supervisory relationship to a relative, the division head must discuss reassignment options with the employees involved. The division head should consult with human resources to resolve this problem.
Possible solutions include:
- offering one employee a permanent alternate position in another section of the same division
- placing one employee on a temporary assignment
- transferring one employee to a comparable position in another division i.e. lateral transfer
The preferences of the employees should be taken into account when considering any of these options. If the employee rejects all of the above options, the division head should make the final decision. Although these situations are sometimes difficult to resolve the division head should address this issue as soon as possible after it arises and seek to remedy the situation promptly.
Recruitment and appointment
In situations where the conflict, or potential conflict, involves hiring/transfer of a relative and where, in the opinion of the division head the concern has sufficient validity, the relative will not be hired/transferred.
Close personal relationships can also cause problems in the selection process and in reporting relationships. Employees who find themselves in this situation should be sensitive to perceptions and guide themselves according to rules set out in the Toronto Public Service By-law.
Corporate Management Team
July 29, 1999
October 6, 2005