With more potential problems than positive benefits, it is clear why organizations have begun to be more conscious of the issues surrounding office romances and have been more proactive in planning for any potential difficulty.
In the recent past, some companies and organizations tried to ban office romances, but this proved to be impractical.
Such a ban “may also be in breach of the right to privacy under the Human Rights Act 1998, although this has not yet been tested,” notes a question and answer feature in Personnel Today (2007).
Sexual harassment policies are seen as the most basic requirement for any employer, including libraries. A sexual harassment policy protects employees as well as the organization, especially if the administration takes it seriously and promotes it.
contributor John Reh writes that “if you are going to allow employees ‘coming on’ to other employees, you have to first make very clear the company policy on harassment. Reh also recommends a “fraternization policy,” and he notes that many organizations include these in their personnel regulations.
A fraternization policy describes rules of acceptable work place behavior. For example, industries with high visibility to the public will have strict rules about how employees behave in public areas of the organization, i.e. This policy is generally managed like a sexual harassment policy: it is created for all employees regardless of whether or not they are currently in romantic relationships at work; it is promoted to everyone, especially at new employee orientations; and it serves as a reference for managers to counsel or discipline employees. The newest policy phenomena in the work place are so-called “love contracts,” reports an article on Good Morning America’s website.
Some organizations will require couples in the work place, who have made it known they are dating, to sign a contract with specifics about the consequences that may occur, a contract that has been compared to a pre-nuptial.
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In this second of two articles, Harer explores how some organizations are responding to office romances and also offers advice for employees in an office romance.
A “love contract” incorporates many of the same behavioral rules of a fraternization policy, but because it is a contract, it applies to only those who sign it.
This contract protects the organization should any of its provisions be breached over the duration of the relationship.
It moves responsibility for appropriate behavior squarely on the dating couple, and it allows the organization to fire the employees should they violate it.