Staff Supervised by a Spouse

Internal Use only 

HR Advisory Notice 20

Date: Sept 25th 2019 

Subject: Staff Supervised by a Spouse 

Distribution:  SIL Area HR leaders – Forward  to all HR staff and Unit leaders & Unit HR teams

Alliance Representatives – forward to Organisation and your team members

Cc: HeRMiTs where appropriate please forward to your teams 


During a review and lessons learned of a critical incident, one of the factors of the incident was that a staff person was being supervised by their spouse. This resulted in less information being available than should have been.


Whilst the general best practice is that an SIL staff person should not be supervised by their spouse, there are a few situations such as joint projects where one spouse, for the sake of the HR information system, has to be designated the lead;  where because of location the best assignment is with a spouse; or where because of an open position a spouse becomes the “de facto” supervisor.

Where the supervisor of an SIL staff person is their spouse, the following additional management practices should be put in place:

  1. A third party will conduct the quarterly reviews, goals setting and annual summary review of the staff person independent of the spouse.
  2. A third party will review and sign off on any financial authorisations of the staff person.
  3. A third party will review and sign off on any risk assessments.
  4. If appropriate, the sending organisation will be notified so they can arrange to debrief or conduct a staff welfare conversation with the staff person independent of the spouse.

These additional management elements provide the spouse and organisation protection from any conflict of interest.

Actions requested of HR or SIL leaders:

Please notify all Unit HR and Unit leaders of this advice.

Keith Robinson

Global CHRO