‘Love contracts’ to keep office lovers at arms length

A
fifth of UK employers have a formal/informal policy regarding intimate
relationships between members of staff, with approximately the same number
again considering the introduction of ‘love contracts’.

This
is the conclusion of a survey of over 1280 employers and advisers by City law
firm Fox Williams asking employers if they have policies in place that set out
the procedures to be followed by both employer/employee, should romance blossom
at work.

The
survey revealed that it is not the relationships themselves that employers are
worried about, but the consequences of them. 

More
than 40 per cent of those who responded confirmed that their main concern in
relation to office romances is the improper dissemination of confidential
information between the employees. 

Others
were also concerned with potential effects on productivity and problems with
perceived favouritism.

More
than 20 per cent of respondents confirmed that if such business risks were
identified, they would consider relocating one of the co-workers, and that
subject to the availability of alternative roles the person to be moved is more
likely to be the junior employee.

Carl
Richards, employment specialist at Fox Williams, said: “Love contracts seek to
protect genuine risks to organisations and it appears that there is a definite
move by employers to make their position on this issue clear to their
employees. As people spend more time in the workplace it is perhaps not
surprising that intimate relationships develop, and employers are becoming
aware of the associated risks to their business. 

"The
survey highlights that there is a clear increase in employers introducing (or
considering to introduce) ‘love contract’ policies into their staff handbooks
to give themselves the option should they be faced with a situation which
[could] impact on their business in a negative way.”

By Ben Willmott

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