Problems with dating in the workplace
A less restrictive policy that a lot of companies have is one preventing nepotism--prohibiting spouses or relatives from working at the same company or preventing employees from supervising related coworkers. You can allow it, with written disclosure. While most companies might prefer that their employees don't date each other in order to avoid problems in the workplace and the potential risk of things turning nasty if the relationship breaks down, blanket bans on dating colleagues rarely serve any meaningful purpose other than to encourage couples to keep things under the radar if they do find love in the office. Dianne Shaddock Austin, president of Easy Small Business HR , said there is a clear downside to colleagues getting involved in romantic relationships. You can often use the contract process to outline expected behavior like no "PDA"--public displays of affection--at work or retaliation if the relationship ends.
She said no business is too small not to be worried about liability. For many smaller companies, they choose to go without a policy, and let the rules on harassment and discrimination do the job. And before implementing a notification policy, you must decide on the ramifications for failing to report. He said he advises his clients that the first part of any such policy needs to be that the relationship, whether it is between a supervisor and subordinate or just two employees, needs to be disclosed to the employer. Additionally, inappropriate workplace behavior, lost productivity, the knock-on effect on other team members and acrimonious breakups are always a concern for employers when colleagues date or fall in love, but having an employee fraternization policy in place for your business or organization can help to avoid all of these things. Sep 18, More from Inc. Even if it does not violate a written policy, your boss the CEO or the board might not care, and view it as a lack of senior management acumen. Finally, you could do nothing and rely solely on your antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies. For small businesses a lawsuit can be devastating because of the cost of defending it," Martin said, adding that big companies probably have more insurance or financial resources to fight a sexual harassment claim should it arise. In my opinion, failure to equitably enforce a corporate policy is often worse than not having one. However, having an employee fraternization policy in place within your company or organization can help to provide clarity, guidance, and boundaries for interoffice dating among colleagues, plus it can ensure that relationships don't have a negative impact on the participants themselves, their other colleagues, or the company as a whole. Think of it this way: Margaret Fiester, manager of the Society for Human Resource Management's HR Knowledge Center , said while an employer's first inclination might be to forbid all office romances, she said that probably isn't very realistic. This can be especially true in high-growth companies that demand long work hours and tend to hire more single employees. You can ban it. Employee fraternization is defined as a relationship that falls outside of normal work-related interactions and communications, which is usually but not necessarily romantic or sexual in nature. While this policy is easier to sell to employees most are not inside each other's reporting chain , you still have a lot of the same problems about defining conduct and what is not allowed. Is this age-old adage becoming extinct? Previously, she practiced labor and employment law exclusively. Cultural attitudes seem to be changing toward in-office romance. According to the CareerBuilder survey, some industries are more prone to inter-office dating than others. Just last month, Gary Friedman, the chief executive of Restoration Hardware, stepped down in the middle of the company's public offering. While all office romances have the potential to cause problems, those that involve a supervisor and one of their subordinates can have the largest ramifications. You can allow it, with written disclosure. There will foreseeably be claims of favoritism, or even discrimination or harassment.
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