You’re a small business owner who needs additional employees to help lighten your load. Should you hire your children?
That depends on several factors, and it pays to keep your eyes open when making such an important decision. Here, we offer a quick five-question quiz to help you decide if that’s the right path for you.
Question #1: How old are your children?
Just because your 12-year-old is a whiz at math doesn’t mean you should hire him or her to help with your books (this has been done, albeit illegally). According to the Department of Labor, children are not allowed to work until they are 14 years of age and even then, there are restrictions during the school year. Read up on these requirements before considering. You should also consider any state law employment restrictions.
Parents who employ their children in real jobs (we aren’t talking about mowing the lawn at home) can be eligible for tax credits, which can add up to thousands of dollars per year. The process can be complicated, so make sure you read the IRS site on this topic as part of your research.
Question #2: Are they the best people for the job?
The answer to this question depends on the tasks you need done. If you own a company that requires seasonal, unskilled help and you know your kid is of legal age and will do a good job, go for it. But if you’re looking for a skilled worker—like someone with a college degree—think about it before filling out your child’s W-2. Either way, think of this as a business decision, not necessarily a personal one. Is your child the best fit for the role? Or would your business be better off looking for a more qualified candidate?
Question #3: How good is your communication with your kids?
Will your children respect your authority as a boss? This is a key question. The more respect they show for you in everyday life, the more likely they’ll be able to give you that same respect at the office. If you’re worried about the communication dynamic with your child, sit him or her down before hiring and hash out some of the roadblocks you may be expecting. Talking it out may help pave the way for a healthy in-office relationship.
Question #4: How will hiring your children impact your existing company culture?
Hiring teenagers to do unskilled work is one thing. Hiring adult children to perform high-paying jobs is another. Sit down with your existing team to discuss the cultural ramifications of such a hire. Ask for feedback and take their concerns to heart. You may be surprised, and your current employees could be in favor of hiring your children. Of course, the opposite could also be true. It’s important to go into this process with an open mind as to how it may affect the morale of your current team.
Question #5: Can you separate your home life from your office life?
Boundaries are especially important when hiring your kids. It can be difficult—especially in the beginning of a work relationship—to think of them as employees, but that’s exactly what they are. Discuss this dynamic with your child before hiring him or her, and try to set parameters as to what you’ll talk about at work and what to discuss at home. If you do this in the beginning, it can help to keep everyone’s emotions in check.