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Is love in the air? Managing close relationships in the workplace.

As today is Valentine’s Day we thought we’d share our top tips to help you manage matters of the heart in your workplace. Whilst Shakespeare may have felt that the course of true love never did run smooth, there are some simple actions you can take to prevent disruption in your organisation!

1. Have a relationship policy and communicate this to your employees  

It’s a good idea to make employees aware of what is expected of them when it comes to close relationships in the workplace. This is particularly the case if a manager should develop a close personal relationship with a subordinate as there is the potential for this to cause issues for the organisation due to the imbalance of power. If you would like assistance with a relationship at work policy, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

2. Make it clear that whilst Cupid’s arrow may have struck, standards of behaviour still apply

Convey that intimate behaviour during working hours is expressly prohibited. Whilst this may sound obvious, there are still cases where it does happen. Being clear will hopefully mean it won’t occur in your organisation, but if it does, having clear standards of behaviour will stand you in good stead.

3. Be ready to listen

For some employees Valentine’s Day may be difficult, it could be they have suffered a bereavement or there has been a recent relationship break down. If you are worried about a member of your team, perhaps because they seem upset or their behaviour is otherwise out of character, having an informal conversation with them in a private setting is a good place to start.

4. Be clear about sexual harassment

Not the most romantic of topics for Valentine’s Day, but it’s important to remember that what one employee can think of as harmless or possibly romantic conduct can actually be sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can occur  if  unwanted conduct is of a sexual nature and violates someone’s dignity or  creates a hostile or similarly unpleasant environment. Behaviour such as making passes at a colleague, touching them or making comments about their appearance (even if it is intended as a compliment) can be sexual harassment. Organisations can be vicariously liable if sexual harassment occurs.

By providing anti-harassment training in your workplace you can help to reduce the likelihood of such conduct occurring. We can support you by providing bespoke anti-harassment training at your premises as a fee-paying additional service. If you would like further information on this or any other training topics, please contact your Employment Law Specialist.

We wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day.


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