The conversations required to uncover conflicts of interest can sometimes be difficult and awkward. Hedy Cray gives some pointers in negotiating this potentially hazardous terrain.

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As an employment lawyer I am often asked, in the world of conflicts of interest, is it safe to ask a question about a personal relationship?

Now, obviously it depends on the circumstances. If there are concerns about probity, about decision-making, about supervisory responsibilities, issues which could give rise to the perception of bias, then there are legitimate reasons to sit down with an employee to say "is there anything that I need to know, because I am concerned".

Obviously, raising close personal relationship conflicts of interest must be done sensitively and appropriately and if the issue were denied, even making an employee aware of the potential or the perception of a personal relationship conflict of interest can become important in terms of managing the integrity of the function and an employee's responsibilities.