It’s February, Valentine’s Day was just a couple of weeks ago, spring is just around the corner – and it’s not unreasonable to think that love may well be in the air. A romance between co-workers is a tried and tested theme of many rom-coms, but in real life can employers regulate this kind of relationship by having rules on personal relationships at work?
Some employers adopt written policies on personal relationships, but this can be a delicate balancing exercise as such a policy needs to take account of both business interests and the employee’s right to a private life. Typically, this kind of policy allows a relationship between co-workers so long as it does not negatively impact their work and often requires the employees to disclose the fact of their relationship, particularly if there is a direct line management relationship between them that could lead to an abuse of power (alleged or actual). It is vital that any written policy on workplace relationships is applied consistently to avoid any allegations of unfairness.
One potential problem for employers is employees disclosing confidential information to their partner if they work for the same business. This is a potential disciplinary issue and needs to be properly reflected in the policy on personal relationships to ensure that the business is appropriately protected.
Employees are entitled to a private life, but to ensure that this does not have a negative impact on the workplace, employers should ensure that there are policies in place to protect them. That way, employers can avoid a romance turning into a horror story.