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Managing Relationships in the Workplace

March 2022

90% of employees say that personal friendships in the workplace are a good thing. But what about the potential difficulties that can arise when romantic relationships develop between colleagues who work together? Given that such a relationship could interfere with an individual's work, objectivity when making decisions or behaviour at work, romantic relationships in the workplace can become a significant problem for employers.

Added complications with romantic relationships in the workplace can arise when one individual has managerial authority over the other. These problems include:

• conflicts of interest;

• perceived or actual favouritism, e.g. in relation to promotion or salary reviews; and

• perceived or actual victimisation if the relationship breaks down.

Two-thirds of employees say that they have had, or would consider having, a close personal relationship with a colleague and so it makes sense for employers to have a policy covering personal relationships in the workplace. Whilst it’s not reasonable or realistic to ban personal relationships in the workplace altogether, it is important for employers to strike a balance between protecting their business interests and the rights of employees to a private life and to clearly set down their policy in this regard.

In order to support employers in managing this sensitive matter, the Personal Relationships at Work Policy has been updated.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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