This is not an atypical situation when family members work together. It is human nature for offspring and other relatives of the owner or higher-level management to receive preferential treatment and, in turn, to bestow favors on their friends.
Most business owners and top managers who allow this to happen have no idea how much damage it causes in the fabric of the enterprise. When good management practices are not adhered to, and when conscientious employees feel that rules that directly impact them are not being followed (e.g., work schedules), an atmosphere is created in which productivity, quality and profitability suffer. That is, there is no genuine impetus for otherwise industrious employees to work hard to excel when/if the cards are already stacked against them being treated fairly and rewarded properly.
I always recommend a specific policy prohibiting people who are related or dating to report to one another. But it is probably a bit late to put that practice into place where you work. You neglect to say what your position is in the company; perhaps it would put your own job at risk to follow this advice. But what needs to be done is for you to put this same question to "stepmom." That is, how does she feel about her stepson's lackadaisical approach to his job and giving preferential scheduling treatment to his current girlfriend?
She may be too busy to really notice her stepson's behavior and/or the fact that he is skirting established work scheduling guidelines because of his personal involvement. She may even be prompted to tell him to find a job on his own--and take his girlfriend with him.
Question added to topic Human Resources • July 18, 2008
How does one deal with a stepson in the family business who is dating an employee?
The stepson makes the schedule and puts this employee to work only on the days his stepmom isn't working. This never happened prior to them dating. Also, she does not have seniority but she only works the best hours: She doesn't work nights or weekends. The stepson also has a lackadaisical approach to the job and shows disrespect toward his stepmom at work.
Penny is a seasoned human resources executive and consultant with over 25 years of diverse business experience in advising enterprise leaders on employment-related matters.