office relationships
14th February 2017

Are Office Relationships Acceptable?

Given the amount of time that employees spend with each other, employers may find on occasion that a close, personal or intimate relationship between employees has developed. What should a company do if their employees are in a relationship?

Employment law consultant Liam Grime says: “Such situations should be handled with care and sensitivity in the interests of all concerned and employers should ensure that any approach or actions are not unfair or discriminatory by avoiding the assumption at the outset that the working relationship will be unsatisfactory.

“While there are no laws prohibiting this and in most cases these office relationships may be harmless, employers may want to take precautions to ensure that their workforce is aware of the possible impact it could have on the business. The implications of close personal relationships at work can include an effect on the trust and confidence of colleagues in relation to a conflict of interest, perception of outside parties regarding the professionalism and fairness of the organisation, breaches of confidentiality, or operational difficulties.

“In light of these potential implications, I would suggest that a well written and informative Personal Relationships at Work policy is put in place to inform employees of the balance between their rights to a private life and the company’s right to protect its interests.

“Employers may want to include a guideline in their policy that requires management be informed of any close personal relationships between employees so that they can review the situation in relation to possible interference with their work. In such circumstances, employers may find it necessary to explore the possibility of one party being moved to a different area of work or location.”


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