4.03 Conflict of Interest in Employment (Nepotism)


Pursuant to the Board of Regents policy (4.11) and the Iowa Code (Chapter 71), this policy serves to define UNI’s policy on the standards for employment of relatives working for the University in same or different departments. This policy applies to all current and future full and part-time, temporary and non-temporary, faculty, staff, and student employees.

Consistent with the principles that employees and prospective employees shall be treated fairly and evaluated on the basis of individual merit the following policy has been developed to prevent conflicts of interest that compromise these principles by the real or perceived possibility of favoritism based on family or personal relationships.

Policy Statement

UNI permits the employment of qualified individuals who are related to employees as long as the relationships are disclosed and either the conflict can be mitigated or such employment does not, in the opinion of the University, create a real or potential conflict of interest.  A conflict of interest exists when related individuals working in the same or different department have a direct or line of authority reporting relationship, and/or have the ability to impact the decision to:

  • hire, or
  • identify or assign duties or responsibilities, or
  • retain, transfer, promote, or grant tenure, or
  • determine or influence compensation or any other terms, conditions, or benefits of employment 

The nature of relationships varies widely, so it is not possible to define precisely and exhaustively all situations in which a potential conflict of interest may arise.  The following list does not constitute an exhaustive listing, but indicates the most prevalent types of relationships that may be considered “related individuals” for the purposes of this policy.

  • By blood or adoption:  parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, first cousin, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece;
  • By a current or former marriage:   spouse, brother or sister-in-law, father or mother-in-law, son or daughter-in-law, step-parent, or step-child;
  • Domestic partners as defined by the University.  A domestic partner shall be treated as a spouse for purposes of this policy;
  • Romantic, sexual, or other consensual relationships that may give the appearance of favoritism.

Employees who become related, as defined by this policy, during the course of their employment will be treated in accordance with this policy.  Employees are obligated to report this relationship as soon as possible but no later than ninety (90) days from the date they become related and if, in the opinion of the University, a real or potential conflict is present, one of the outcomes outlined in the procedure section below may be required.

If there is a situation where an action, such as a reduction in force, results in two related individuals reporting to each other, one of the employees may be reassigned. 

If a particular conflict of interest is solely comprised of a single instance (such as a tenure vote, distribution of student assessments or hiring temporary employees), recusal is necessary in order to manage that conflict. A written statement confirming the recusal for that employment-related decision should be obtained by the supervisor of the person who is recusing themselves.


All employees are required to disclose real or potential conflicts of interest as defined by this policy to the Human Resource Services Director or the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs. In addition, when a dean, director, department head, or supervisor proposes to hire a person known to be a related individual of an employee of the University and where there is a real or potential conflict of interest, a written request for approval of the appointment which may include proposals for mitigating the conflict pursuant to this policy must be made.  This procedure will also be utilized when employees become related during the course of their employment.  The University will evaluate the situation, document its findings in writing and one of the following outcomes will apply:

  1. The University determines no conflict of interest exists;
  2. The University decides to implement a written management plan based on a sound institutional reason for situations where real or potential conflicts exist which will be signed by all relevant parties and reviewed annually;  or
  3. The University transfers one of the employees or denies hire to a person that would create a real or potential conflict of interest.

The contacts listed above, or their designees, will evaluate the potential conflict and if management plans, transfers or denial of hire are recommended, they will review these actions with the appropriate Vice President and/or University Counsel.  If, however, a recommended management plan involves the President, the Provost, a Vice President, or a director of a major unit, the plan must also be approved by the Board of Regents, or its designee. 

Those who become aware of conflicts of interest in employment are encouraged to report them to the Human Resource Services Director or to the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs.   Retaliation against employees who make a good faith report of conflicts of interest is prohibited.

Concealing real or potential conflicts of interest, refusal to implement University determined management plans and retaliation against employees who make a good faith report of conflicts of interest may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Other Conflict of Interest Guidelines

UNI Purchasing Guidelines & Procedures – “Conflict of Interest”

Code of Iowa section 68B.2A – “Prohibited outside employment and activities—conflicts of interest.”

Human Resource Services, approved August 31, 2012
President’s Cabinet, approved January 14, 2013