Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. January 18, 2017. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

CK Council Looks At Nepotism Policies In The Municipality

Chatham-Kent council members plan to study the municipality’s policies on workplace nepotism to assure residents there is no unfair hiring taking place.

Councillor Trevor Thompson’s motion, which passed unanimously at Monday night’s council meeting, calls for staff to “draft a report to provide further clarity so that job applicants, council, administration, and the public clearly understand the level of fairness and consistency that will be applied to all hiring situations, including internal and external hiring processes.”

Thompson says it is his goal to remove the public perception of nepotism in the municipality.

“I got a couple of letters in my mailbox actually….no return address, hand-written… with allegations of nepotism within the municipality. At that point, I had discussed it with staff Cathy Hoffman, but what can you do with an unaddressed letter? Not too much. A couple times a year, somebody would come to me with those concerns of nepotism,”says Thompson.

Thompson says his motion was inspired by changes in surrounding area’s workplace policies.

“London is working on a policy revision and Windsor did one just a few years back as well. This is a total nepotism revamp. At that point I decided that I should probably reach out to my colleague in London, discussed it with him briefly, and kind of worked my motion off of that,” explains Thompson.

Thompson says the final result of the motion was “win and a loss,” because council decided the municipality will not be updating any nepotism polices.

Thompson’s original motion, before it was amended during council, called for the report to include “additional amendments to the municipal hiring policy, to ensure a nepotism-free work force.” He says he was not sure if the polices need updating and created the motion to find that out.

Chief Human Resource Officer Cathy Hoffman assured council that the municipality’s hiring polices were recently updated earlier this year.¬†¬†According to Hoffman, out of around 2,000 employees at the municipality, only about 150 are related to other employees. She says the municipality gives every one a fair chance at being hired, based on qualifications and experience.

Though, Councillor Carmen McGregor raises the issue of job applicants having an advantage by knowing someone in the municipality.

Thompson agrees that just knowing the process gives you a “leg up.” He says having a family member to guide applicants through the hiring process could give them an unfair advantage.

Hoffman says all applicants must disclose any relation to employees in the municipality during the interview process to avoid any nepotism. She adds that the municipality also assists job applicants, who are unfamiliar with the hiring process, by guiding them on the career website and hosting job fairs.

Overall, Thompson says he is fairly relieved to hear that there does not seem to be any nepotism going on in the municipality, but says there is still work to be done.

“Knowledge is half the battle. We are going to get an information report back, outlining exactly what our nepotism bylaws are…at the very least, I’ll have a document that I can point to, because I’ve never received one. The next time I get one of these calls, I’ll say we can get together and talk about and I’ll have some information to point to,” says Thompson.

Hoffman says she will have the report on the municipality’s nepotism polices ready for January’s council meeting.