This Valentine’s Day Employers may be forgiven for feeling somewhat “humbug” regarding romance as this day of love triggers individuals to take that additional step and ask the person they have had a crush on for some time out on a date. Given that the majority of individual’s time is spent in the workplace it is not unusual that such a declaration of intent to want to date or declaration of love are not announced within the workplace. Rather than encourage such workplace romances Employers should be encouraged to look towards their relationship at work policy to establish if there are any breaches by the pending love birds.
As an Employer when you reach for that Work Handbook and note that there is no such policy, a wave of dread might wash over you. Having two Employees form a personal relationship can have a huge impact within the workplace. As an Employer, what are you going to do in relation to kissing or holding hands between the “lovebirds” in the workplace, what about those e-mail communications that are sent via your e-mail system and if the relationship breaks down how will the atmosphere between the parties effect your other employees and what happens when all those “lovey dovey” e-mail messages start becoming a cause of concern.
If one of the love bird’s behaviour becomes inappropriate what, as an Employer would you do to bring the employee back into line?
The truth is the impact of relationships to a small business can be huge and so can the fines that small business owner could have to pay out if sexual harassment is established.
Even solicitor’s firms are not immune to large pay-outs for sexual harassment. In August 2015 Bolton based AA Solicitors Ltd was ordered to pay £20,000.00 to a younger female Solicitor after the young female Solicitor was dismissed when she declined his advances. More recently a small business owner has been ordered to pay £4,500.00 for persistently informing a male colleague that he should ask a female colleague out on a date. This made the male employee feel extremely uncomfortable at work especially given the female colleague had already got a boyfriend. £4,500.00 for many small business is a large sum to pay and therefore we would strongly encourage business to ensure a workplace policy dealing with purpose of relationships.
Our colleagues over the pond are now introducing “Love Contracts” which require Employees in relationships at work to confirm that they are both in a consensual relationship and signs them up to dos and don’ts within the workplace. Thankfully such contracts here are not required and certainly not encouraged by us and actually depending on the restraints that play upon the individuals could be deemed as a breach of human rights and certainly such contracts are not enforceable within the Employment Tribunals currently.
If our Employments Services department can help you with the preparing of policies and procedures, please do contact Salena Dawson for a transparent quote.
Wishing you all a very happy Valentine’s Day.