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Topic: Staff handbook - contractual policies and procedures

personal relationships at work policy
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Personal relationships at work policy

Personal relationships at work policy

In drafting and implementing a policy statement on personal relationships at work, you need to strike a balance between protecting your legitimate business interests and the right of your employees to have a private life. Our personal relationships at work policy statement does exactly that, although think carefully about what restrictions, if any, you really need to impose.

A fair balance

Given that employees spend many of their waking hours at work, it’s inevitable that personal relationships will be formed from time to time. You should not seek to impose a blanket ban on personal relationships at work. Instead, you should devise a policy which has a clear business aim and which is not unduly restrictive. All employees have a right to enjoy a private life and you should only seek to interfere with that if it has, or has the reasonable possibility of having, an adverse effect on your business. For example, seeking to prevent employees being afforded favourable treatment (or unfavourable treatment if the relationship subsequently breaks down) is a genuine business interest, so you just need to ensure that your means of preventing this from happening are proportionate. Our Personal Relationships at Work Policy aims to respect the employee’s privacy whilst at the same time recognising that certain relationships need to be declared where there is the risk of an abuse of authority or the exertion of undue influence. This will affect not just employees having relationships with each other but also where an employee embarks on a relationship with one of their clients, customers or suppliers. It’s also quite legitimate to expect your employees to behave in a professional manner at work and not to behave inappropriately in front of other staff.


An inter-departmental move

Our policy statement also provides for the possibility of one of the employees being moved to another department if needs be. However, you should only really consider a move where the circumstances of the relationship make this absolutely necessary and, in this regard, you are obliged not to treat a women less favourably than a man (or vice versa) on grounds of their sex. This means both employees should be treated fairly and it will not therefore automatically follow that it is the woman who should move to another department. The best way forward here is to try and persuade both employees to agree on an appropriate solution to the problem. A less restrictive option is simply to change reporting lines or client contact arrangements, so our policy provides for that too.


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