Work/Life Balance Issues February 15, 2013

Employers should provide clear guidance for office romances, says expert

An employment expert has said employers should provide clear guidelines for office romances.

Employment law expert Paula Wheelan suggested employers may not be allowed to discriminate against workers who have office relationships, as it could potentially be covered by the Equality Act 2010. However, she urged bosses to provide clear guidance in advance, which should help in navigating through uncertainty when it comes to office relationships.

For example, the lawyer claimed that if informed beforehand, employees won't be surprised if their employer wants to discuss any productivity issues which may be caused from the romance.

Ms Wheelan writes on "While in general policies that seek to ban or actively discourage office romances are unnecessary, it would be wise to make employees aware of the potential repercussions if they choose to get involved with someone at work."

She continues: "For example, it would be unwise for a senior executive to have a relationship with someone more junior as it can lead to allegations of preferential treatment."

According to, a separate US study published this week found that 40 per cent of employees have admitted that they have dated a colleague at least once in their working life, with 17 per cent saying they have more than once.

The data also found that the most likely places for romance to blossom is on employees' lunch hours, as well as 'happy hours' at the bar outside of the office.

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