Love in the workplace hit headlines recently for all the wrong reasons, however, apparently two thirds of UK employees think that colleagues who couple should not be sacked.
Research by Perkbox for Valentine’s Day, which surveyed 1000 UK workers, found that of the 63% who believe this, one in four think employers should have no say at all over their personal lives. A further 28% say a workplace romance should be accepted if it’s genuine.
The survey found that 13% of employees believe a work romance between employees at different levels should be sackable, while 22% believe the only exception would be if it’s explicitly included in one’s terms of employment.
Maddie Pozlevic, Employee Experience Lead at Perkbox says: “With the average person spending 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime - often equating to more time with work colleagues than family and friends, it makes sense that a certain amount of workplace romances will develop in your organisation.
“The key is making clear to your employees from the outset what company policy or social norms should pertain around this.”
Jo Stubbs XpertHR’s global head of content product strategy said: “Many employers will be fine with two colleagues having a relationship, providing their conduct does not affect their work. However, it is still a good idea for employers to have a written policy on personal relationships at work.
“The rules must be applied consistently to everyone, including managers. Same-sex couples should not be treated differently to heterosexual couples.
“Employers can legitimately prevent "inappropriate conduct" at work that could lead to disciplinary action. Employers can also require employees in a relationship to keep communications in the workplace professional, particularly when using their work email or some other form of internal communication.”
However relationship policies are not favoured by all.
Mike Ellis, co-founder of 43 Clicks North said: “A relationship policy isn’t something I would have considered… Everyone is entitled to a private life, even in the workplace and a relationship policy, that bans workplace relationships, I expect, would result in less trust between work colleagues as relationships could then be kept secret.
“If a relationship policy is required, it should include the manner of behaviour that is expected. It can be required for employees to make their managers aware of any workplace relationships. A blanket ‘kiss and tell’ policy isn’t good HR practice though. It’s a heavy-handed measure that doesn’t treat staff as responsible adults. There are also questions about how enforceable it would be. At what stage should you declare it – on the first date or after your engagement party?”
James Carfell, HR manager for Modern World Business Systems said: “Relationships in the workplace can be a difficult area, and should be handled delicately. The moment you are aware of two employees having relations, you should hold a separate meeting with both parties and talk them through the company guidelines and rules on the matter. It must not affect their work, while they must also respect the workplace and not kiss or act romantic in the workplace in any shape or form.
“A simple talk normally works perfectly and prevents any future scenarios from occurring.”