Personal Relationships at Work

27 January 2016

It is inevitable that in any workplace there will be friendships and, on occasion, personal relationships that are formed between work colleagues. Employers should be careful not to interfere with the personal lives of employees although there is obviously a balance that needs to be maintained between the private lives of employees and the business interests of the Company.

Personal relationships have the potential to impact negatively upon your Company. Relationships at any level can cause resentment and accusations of favouritism, and this is exacerbated when the relationship is between a junior and senior staff member. There is also the possibility that you may be held vicariously liable for any potential harassment claim. So… what can you do to mitigate these risks?

The first answer is to have a clear policy in your staff handbook which specifically relates to personal relationships in the workplace. This should set out the ground rules of the company and make clear that working time is for work, relationships must not unduly influence conduct at work and that any relationships between staff should be reported to the relevant line managers.  

If you become aware of a relationship between two employees, it might be sensible to invite them into an informal meeting to confirm that they are aware of Company policy – and they can be asked to sign a letter, or ‘love contract’, to this effect. A discreet meeting to confirm the Company’s stance on this issue, and to outline that any breach of Company policy will be treated as a disciplinary matter, can help to prevent issues from occurring.

At Alpha, we have a vast experience in drafting a range of employment documentation, including any bespoke policies you may require. We also provide unlimited support to members of our Alpha scheme, including how to respond to any legislative changes. If you would like to have Alpha on your side, please feel free to contact us.


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