At Co-op, we’re at the heart of our communities, so it’s not surprising that we’ll sometimes have colleagues who are related to each other working here. While there’s usually no problem with that, we do need to make sure that these relationships don’t cause any issues at work, such as favouritism or perceived favouritism or conflict.

We’ve put together this policy just so that everyone knows what to expect when it comes to employing or working with someone you’re related to.

Crucial bits

With changes in modern families, the word ‘relative’ can mean a lot of things. Just so it’s clear, when we talk about relatives we mean people who are directly related to you – like your partner, spouse/civil partner, parent, child, or cousin as well as people you might be related to by marriage, or step-relations. If you’re in any doubt whether you need to tell someone about a relative, just speak to your manager.

This guidance also applies to any relationships with agency workers, contractors, consultants or suppliers who work for the Co-op and who you work closely with.


To make sure all our recruitment is done fairly and consistently, if your relative applies for a job here it’s important that you don’t get involved in the recruitment process in any way.

If you’re recruiting, please remember that we want to have a workforce that reflects the diverse make-up of our communities – so it’s important to consider a wide range of applicants.

Managing relatives

As a general rule, you shouldn’t manage a relative – either by being their line manager or having indirect responsibility over them. We know that this sometimes happens, but you’ll need to make your manager aware of this and get them to approve it.

If you do manage a relative, a conflict of interest could arise in situations like giving performance ratings, awarding pay rises or supervising financial transactions. So you should talk to your manager to agree appropriate ways of minimising any potential problems.

New relationships at work

To help avoid any problems down the road, you need to let your manager know as soon as possible if:

  • You start a significant relationship with a colleague you work closely with, or you manage
  • Your relationship with a colleague changes in any way that might mean you have a conflict of interest

If you’re not sure whether a new relationship or a change in an existing relationship is significant enough to tell your manager about, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have chat with them about it.

If for any reason you feel unable to talk to your manager about this, please speak to a senior manager.

If you tell your manager about a relationship, they’ll agree with you what steps, if any, need to be taken. This might include changing shift patterns or the structure of the team, altering the reporting line or arranging for someone to supervise the working relationship.

They’ll treat what you’ve told them as strictly confidential.

Things to think about

Dealing with problems

If problems arise as a result of colleagues employing their relatives or having relationships at work, you should try to resolve the issues with your manager, or if not appropriate, a senior manager.

We’ll look at all possible steps that could be taken to resolve the issue, such as different shift patterns or a change of reporting line. In rare cases where it’s not been possible to resolve the problem, we may need to speak to you and/or the other colleague about the possibility of transferring to a different team, department or location.

When dealing with any problems that may arise as a result of relationships at work, managers should speak to ER Services for advice before taking any action.


We sometimes buy family businesses, so in those cases it can be tricky to not have relatives working together. In these cases managers should contact ER Services for further guidance.

If you need further support

If you have questions about this, please speak to your manager. If managers need advice they can contact ER Services.