We see it all the time! Even if our handbooks say not to. Family in the workplace!
I’m here to tell you they are not easy, and my best advice is to run- run far away.

Now don’t get me wrong, family relationships for entry-level positions is not too strenuous, unless of course there are residing issues at home. One foul word, intentional or not, could ruin someone’s career. Is that a risk you are willing to take?

Traditionally, when you think of a family member working under another, some may assume they got the job solely because they are family and that they lack the skills needed to do the job correctly. In some instances this may not be the case.



I worked under my husband’s aunt for about two and a half years of my career (beginning in the summer of 2015), and I can assure you, yes, we had multiple fun times over the years. It had seemed in every situation, however, the bad always outweighed the good.  My first position working for my Aunt-in-law was working as an HR Manager for a hotel. Even though my Aunt-in-law recommended me for the position, I successfully interviewed with other directors in the company to reduce bias. 

My optimism was high, but it didn’t take long for the first red flag to appear soon after I began my position in the company. I found myself in a situation where I was being blamed for an issue involving benefits that began before I was even hired. The “this isn’t right” feeling thickened as my aunt in-law didn’t stick up for me in any way during the escalated situation. Coworker or family, the situation was unfair to me and my reputation, and the position I was in should have been defended by her.

Apparently the threat of her boss assuming that her intentions for intervening in my situation was solely family-based outweighed the morals of rightfully defending me. Shying away from calming this director down and having the proper communication available, she chose to “promote me” to a new role, moving me to the corporate office. Though the true intentions of the promotion were questionable, I will not deny that this move was great; I learned a lot and I had a much more pleasant experience.


After some time, that company was purchased by another and the layoffs began. Interestingly enough, the new company that hired my aunt in-law requested she brought another person with her to the new job. You would have thought that I learned my lesson the first time, but hey- who could resist a $7 / hour pay increase (plus 2 free trips to Washington DC and New Orleans for training)?  Well not me; she made me the offer to come with her, and I happily took it. The company was held at a more “corporate standard”, which made working there easy and fun. My Aunt-in-law and I were communicating effectively and getting things successfully done.

As time continued (of course), things started to fall apart. This was in turn caused by situations occurring in our personal life. I over all lost a lot of respect for her as a person. The Story goes: My husband and I got married February 2017; which was during this second job.  My Aunt-in-law’s long term boyfriend was going to school for film at the time and wanted to start building his photography portfolio with our wedding as a platform. We excitedly asked him 2 ½ months before the wedding to take our wedding photos.
[I know I know I’m bad, the #1 rules of weddings is to outsource everything]

At the time we first discussed this possibility, no photography cost was brought up, and because this was his first wedding shoot, we assumed the pictures would instead be a wedding gift, or going to be used for marketing. Not even 2 weeks before our wedding, he decides to tell us he’s expecting a minimum of $500 for the photos and $800 if we wanted edits. As you can imagine… bridezilla lost it ! {Not really – I pride myself on being calm for a bride} We did however inform him we would not be using his services and recommended he be more professional if this is what he planned on doing for the rest of his life.


Bonus: We were lucky enough to find the most amazing photographer ever, even two weeks out from the wedding.

Fast forward a few months from the wedding, and my sister-in-law was also offered a job through my Aunt, working under her, in my department. Though things weren’t too rocky to begin with, I was not expecting to feel completely neglected when my sister-in-law not only received more attention, but more important duties around the workplace.
(She did however have a master’s degree)

Bonus: I was asked NOT to change my last name so that no one would find out..

It was at this time when personal affairs began affecting the work life. Not only was there a lot of tension from working side by side with two family members every day; more issues arose with my Aunt-in-law’s long term boyfriend.

In conclusion, working for family can be the best thing for your career if you have the motivation to stay in constant and healthy communication, be flexible with time and possible obstacles, and to successfully keep work life and personal life separate. But sadly, more often than not, there will be a turn for the worst; a whole 180 degree turn for the worst at times. If you are ever in an unhealthy situation that drains the happiness from your workplace, consider another option before it’s too late. Most of your life is spent at work, and you deserve to be happy during those times.


  1. This is such a great blog, very informative and a great read, and I can relate to having a job that has made me unhappy and it’s tough!

  2. I actually just hit 7 years of working full time for my dad (plus a summer during college) and it has been amazing for both of us.

    I did move cross country and work elsewhere before coming back and joining him, and I think that was a very good thing. I almost passed up the opportunity for all the reasons you’ve listed here, but I’m so glad I made the leap.

    I agree with all of what you’ve said, but in my case, it’s been 95% good and only 5% bad. One downside – when you get a call from your dad at 8PM Sunday night and it turns out to be a work call 😉

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