Well it’s that time of year again, when our thoughts turn to love and romance…but what about relationships at work, is it all hearts and flowers? What do you do if the declaration of previously unrequited love blossoms into a personal relationship between colleagues over the Valentine’s period, or indeed at any other time?
Relationships at work are relatively common because of the amount of time people spend together but can create problems such as conflicts of interests or opportunities for fraud. This can introduce significant risk to a business, especially if things go wrong.
The USA deals with this problem using ‘love contracts’. These are documents signed by both employees which confirm that neither employee has been coerced into the relationship, the aim being a prevention of a sexual harassment claim later down the line. Whilst these were quite common in the US they didn’t really catch on in the UK. British reserve you may think, however what we are beginning to see is a rise in businesses implementing ‘relationship policies’.
These policies often include a requirement to disclose a personal relationship at work to senior management so that the business can decide if it poses a business risk. They can also highlight the standards required, for example, a personal relationship must not impact on conduct at work and should be discreet.
Some policies even go so far as stating that managers cannot date someone in their line management and that if a relationship develops one employee may have to move out of their job. The essence is that these policies must strike a balance between the right to a private life and the legitimate right to protect business interests.
Each business has to decide what risks personal relationships pose and then decide the strength of the policy required. All we need is love… right?
If you have a thorny love problem at work that you need help with then please just drop us an email [email protected]…oh and Happy Valentine’s Day!