What can employers do about office relationships?

  • Employee Conduct
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read our article: 'What can employers do about office relationships?'. Contact us today for more information about our Employment Law, Health & Safety, and HR services.

Office relationships can present a minefield within organisations, with various different methods being introduced to reduce employer liability. America has seen the introduction of ‘Love Contracts’ whilst some UK companies have banned inter-office romances completely. A 2011 study recorded that 40% of workers have dated a colleague at some point, showing that this area is not so much about banning workplace romance but managing it. It is within an employer’s right to ban office relationships completely, however, this may prove impossible to enforce and realistically will not stop employees entering in to secret romances. Office relationships can result in positive outcomes, such as an enhanced morale because employees want to go to work, and an increase in communication, creativity and energy, but employers should be aware of the threats they pose. Many companies prohibit supervisors from dating direct subordinates whilst allowing relationships between members within the same teams. The threat from this type of workplace relationship is a loss of productivity and poor performance, due to distractions both mental and emotional, and the threats from break ups are that they can damage morale, create tense atmospheres, increase absenteeism and result in an increase in gossip and rumours. The situation of having two senior managers in a relationship may appear to be allowable as this is a relationship with someone in the same job band and position. However, if they do break up, this close working relationship may lead to more potential problems than two workers in differing positions; not only the tense, uncomfortable atmosphere which many break-ups produce but also the issue that these employees were recruited as managers for a reason and if one of them leaves because of the fall-out then this creates a gap within the organisation. The first step to managing this situation is to have an office romance policy, setting out clear, comprehensive guidelines on the company’s stand on this issue. This policy could include guidelines such as banning senior and delegate relationships, requiring disclosure of relationships or for seniors to move positions when such relationships develop. Having employees sign and date this policy serves as evidence that they understand and acknowledge these guidelines should any of these situations arise within the office. Also, employers can take steps to educate employees on inter-office romances and on the company’s expectation of conduct and professionalism should they find themselves in such a relationship. Finally, educating employees on sexual harassment policies and their correlation with office romance can reduce liability for companies should romantic involvements turn sour. If you need any further clarification on this issue then please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772. 


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • pumpkin


    Three real life workplace horror stories (and how to handle them)

    You sent us anonymous stories for our experts to unpack. And now, our HR and Health & Safety experts will share their thoughts on three scary workplace stories that’ll make you jump straight for your employee handbook…

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employee Conduct
  • A woman confidently poses - caption above her says 'Ask Kate'


    Ask Kate: my employees are discussing politics on work time. Help!

    This caller was worried about their employees discussing political matters at work. So, they asked Kate Palmer, Peninsula’s HR Advice and Consultancy Director, for expert advice.

    Kate PalmerHR Advice and Consultancy Director
    • Employee Conduct
  • christmas tree and guests in background


    Four tips for creating an inclusive workplace Christmas party

    Without sounding like a Scrooge, it’s important to make sure your Christmas party is a safe and fun space for all employees. So to help you plan an inclusive festive do for your staff this Christmas, here are some expert tips…

    Alan PriceChief Operations Officer
    • Equality & Diversity
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.

International sites

© 2023 Peninsula Business Services Limited. Registered Office: The Peninsula, Victoria Place, Manchester, M4 4FB. Registered in England and Wales No: 1702759. Peninsula Business Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of non-investment insurance contracts.

Cyber Essential Logo
BAFE SP205 Registration
ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited company.
The Sunday Times - Top Track 250.
Glassdoor 2018 Best Places To Work.