201.97 Supervisor Relationships Policy FAQs

Posted 7/15/21

SPG 201.97 is the authoritative policy statement, and these FAQs are intended to supplement the policy. If information in these FAQs is inconsistent with the SPG, the SPG prevails.

In addition, these FAQs will evolve. New FAQs may be added, and existing ones revised, as situations give rise to new opportunities for further clarification, information, and guidance. As such, please revisit this page periodically.

There are several kinds of reporting relationships covered by this Policy. I understand what a direct reporting relationship is, but what is meant by terms like “indirect reporting relationship” and “functional supervision”?
An indirect reporting relationship can occur in a few different situations. One might be between a supervisor and supervisee, but who have one or more levels between them. For example, an intimate relationship between an executive officer or associate vice-president and an administrative assistant in the executive’s unit would be covered by and subject to disclosure under this policy, even though there might be several levels of supervision between them.   
A faculty or staff member may also have “functional supervision” or other evaluative responsibility over another employee and in those situations, they would be a supervisor under this policy. Examples are a faculty member who directs the work of a department administrative assistant; a physician on the same care team as a nurse or medical assistant; or the head of a lab with several employees in the lab who may not be in their direct reporting chain, but over whom they have career influence.
Can intimate relationships be covered by this policy even though there is no direct, indirect or functional reporting relationship?
Yes. There might be situations that do not involve ongoing direct, indirect, or functional supervision, but where one might exert power or influence. For example, a peer faculty member might be assigned to a tenure/promotion committee reviewing their partner or to a school or college executive committee and be responsible for reviewing matters involving their partner.  
What about the intimate relationships that exist before the supervisory relationship?  Do they need to be disclosed?
Yes. There are a couple of ways this might occur. If a faculty or staff member is recruited to the university in an administrative, managerial or supervisory position and their partner either works or plans to work at the university, a plan will be put in place from the outset of employment to remove supervision or influence. Also, if both partners currently work at the university, one may not subsequently become the other’s supervisor without prior disclosure and a management plan (see, e.g., SPG 201.23, Section II.B.). For example, if there is a job opening in the supervisor’s area for which the supervisor’s partner applies, there must be disclosure prior to the hiring process so that the supervisor is removed from all input into the hiring decision and, if the partner is hired, from all supervision.
Is there a template management plan available to units?
Each management plan will be different depending upon the individual employment situation. Resources will be available in the near future for units to use. In the meantime, you should contact your human resources representative if you have questions about whether there is a need for a management plan and for assistance in drafting one.
What should be in a management plan?
Depending on the particular situation, a management plan might be as straightforward as recusal from a committee for decisions or recommendations related to a committee member’s partner, but not any other time; in the clinical or research context, removal from all evaluative responsibility for a member of a clinical team or research lab; or in the case of indirect supervision, ensuring that the supervisor is formally removed from any decisions, input, or influence over the all aspects of their partner’s employment. More complicated situations can also arise, which may require identifying a new, ongoing reporting and evaluation framework for the supervisee.
Regardless of whether a management plan is simple or more complex, it must be in writing.
What if the intimate relationship ends?  Does the management plan need to stay in place?
While each situation will be evaluated individually, the end of an intimate relationship covered by this SPG does not mean that a management plan is no longer necessary. There may be reasons to keep the plan in place (with or without revisions) to manage issues related to retaliation, favoritism, or other issues. The supervisor should disclose a change in the intimate relationship, and the higher administrative authority is responsible for determining when a management plan is no longer necessary.
What is a higher administrative authority?  How will I know if I am one and therefore have responsibility for monitoring a management plan?
The higher administrative authority is at least one level of supervision higher than the supervisor who has disclosed a relationship, but it must be a person at such a level that they have responsibility for an entire unit or department. The higher administrative authority will vary depending on the unit. In the schools and colleges, it might be an associate dean or dean. For staff level positions, it might be a director level or higher.  
If an intimate relationship involves two employees who report to different supervisors, who is responsible for monitoring the management plan?
This situation could arise where members of a team do not report through the same supervisory chain, but the leader of the team (e.g. physician or researcher) has influence over the employment and career of another member of the team. If they are in an Intimate Relationship, the management plan should be known to the supervisors of both persons, but the higher administrative authority of the person in the position of greater power is responsible for implementation and monitoring of the management plan.