Rethink your nepotism policy

If you have a policy that bans hiring employees' spouses, consider dropping it, or at least rewriting it.

Reason: 14 percent of dual-income married couples now work in the same industry, and 6 percent are in the same occupation, a new Employment Policy Foundation study found. So, a policy against hiring spouses could limit your application pool.

Also, anti-nepotism policies may raise discrimination issues. In a company with a mostly male work force, a no-spouse policy may have an adverse impact on women. (Thomas v. Metroflight Inc., 10th Cir., 814 F2d 1509) Many states also ban discrimination based on marital status or otherwise legal off-duty conduct.

Advice: Instead of banning spouses as employees, put limits on direct-reporting situations. Make sure your policy is gender-neutral, applied consistently and in writing. Specify the types of relationships covered and the options when a worker enters into a covered relationship.