Watch out for office romances

Employers have been warned to be vigilant over workplace relationships as the fallout from the recent scandal at the Football Association (FA) is analysed.

FA chief executive Mark Palios resigned after it was revealed both he and England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson had affairs with personal assistant Faria Alam.

The situation was confused further when the FA allegedly offered to provide details on Eriksson in return for keeping Palios out of the media.

Trevor Batty, a partner at law firm Speechly Bircham, said it was unrealistic for companies to expect staff not to have relationships, but HR should have policies to deal with any problems.

“The increasing incidence of relationships between employees suggests the need for there to be a procedure or guidance for individuals so that the risks from the more obvious dangers are minimised,” he said.

He said the first step was to reinforce the policy on sexual harassment to avoid unwanted advances, improve training so managers are aware of the risks, and remind those involved of corporate confidentiality. However, the key to managing workplace relationships was to know they exist.

“If an employer is alerted to a relationship then some of the risks can be avoided,” he added.

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