“Is it a conflict of interest if I work in the same place as my son, and I cover a shift for him?

Question: Is it a conflict of interest if my son has me work for him on his scheduled shift because of a death in the family? We work in the same place and we are both hourly employees.

         Raynette
         Winslow, Arizona

Answer: Raynette, yes, I would call what you describe to be a kind of a conflict of interest. I see a conflict of interest as a situation where (a) a person has a responsibility to do one thing for someone else, (b) but because of some temptation, is drawn to do a different thing.

There is an old saying about conflicts of interest: “A person who has one watch always knows what time it is. A person with two watches is never sure.”

You and your son both have a responsibility to your employer to work, and to be honest with your employer, just as your employer has a duty to be honest with you. If your employer does not know about this “switch” in which you will do the work in the name of your son, because you love him, then (a) your love for your son is interfering with (b) your duty to be honest with your employer.

On the other hand, if your employer is aware of the “switch,” then there is no violation of your duty to be honest with your employer.

Honesty is a great habit, and always the better path to choose.

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          Best, Al Sklover

If you need, we offer a Model Letter entitled Model Letter to Address a Possible Conflict Of Interest at Work. “What to Say / How to Say It.™” Just [click here.]

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.