Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to study the applicability of a crossover model of work–family conflict (WFC) in the work setting among supervisor–subordinate dyads. It examines the positive association between supervisor’s WFC and subordinate’s WFC and analyses the moderating effect of subordinate’s susceptibility to emotional contagion (SEC). Design/methodology/approach: Data were gathered using a questionnaire survey method and tested in 193 matched supervisor–subordinate dyads from select organisations representing the services sector in India. Findings: The authors found a significant direct crossover path from the supervisor to his/her subordinate’s WFC. The effect of supervisor reported WFC on subordinate reported WFC was found to be strong when the subordinate displayed higher SEC with his/her supervisor. Research limitations/implications: Examining the crossover of WFC contributes to theory by broadening crossover research to include transmission of negative experiences in the work context. This study significantly adds to emotional contagion theory by substantiating the existence of WFC contagion in supervisor–subordinate dyads. Given the constraints of cross-sectional research design, future research should replicate these findings using a larger sample in other cultural contexts as well to generalise the results. Future research should consider using longitudinal data and including information from both the supervisor and the subordinates collected at different points in time. Crossover of positive work–family experiences (e.g. work–family enrichment) and the role of other individual difference variables such as the personality of the subordinates, empathy, etc., could also be considered. Practical implications: Supervisors should be advised of the potential adverse effects of their WFC and organisations should be made cognizance of the impact that the WFC of employees can have on their job outcomes. Organisations should provide the required formal and informal support to their employees to deal with their WFC efficiently. Originality/value: This study has attempted to examine the crossover of WFC in supervisor–subordinate dyads and the potential effect of one of the individual difference variables namely SEC. To the best of the authors knowledge, it has rarely been examined earlier. © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.