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Policies, Procedures & SafeguardsJuly 14, 2016
Traditionally, workplace romances have been a delicate and private subject, and while there are no hard rules on the matter, employers need to consider reasonable measures to ensure their business is not adversely affected.
Often there is nothing wrong with romance in the workplace, and statistics show approximately half of the Australian workforce will have had one in their working life. However, if it turns sour, it may expose the employer to potential legal liabilities, conflicts of interest, and disruption to business.
In most cases, relationships between employees do not pose a threat to employers. However, relationships between supervisors or managers and their staff certainly could create serious problems, mainly due to the potential favouritism or abuse of power. Other employees may claim the partnered employee received favoured additional perks and/or one of the parties could make harassment claims after the relationship ends. Other potential risks could include personal disputes during work hours, leading to deflated team morale, or productivity.
What should employers do?
Given the potential issues with workplace relationships, there are many options employers can consider.
Encourage your staff to approach their supervisor or manager to inform them that they are in a relationship with a coworker. This way if the relationship does cause concerns, management is aware and can work with the employees to prevent their work or productivity from being affected.
Employers can choose to implement a workplace relationship policy which details which types of relationships are permitted, and the guidelines for engaging in a romantic relationship with a colleague. This policy can be used to define appropriate and inappropriate workplace behaviour between the employees, and the timeframe for informing management of the existence of a relationship.
Policies can vary from a strict no tolerance policy or a more lenient discouragement approach. Either way, employers should consider whatever that policy they adopt, must be included in their employee handbook and ensure every employee is aware of the policy.
Dealing with Cupid in the workplace can be a tricky subject however, your solutions must meet the needs of your business. If you are unsure about what policies you can or should include in your workplace, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415. Our specialist advisers are ready to help.