Relationships at work: navigating the emotional and legal minefields

By Helen Burgess

We spend the majority of our time at work and often meet our future partner there. But can and should office relationships be allowed or does the home connection lead to domestic issues pervading the working environment?

In a pure legal sense, there is nothing to outlaw or restrict relationships at work (whether that is relatives working for the same organisation or having a partner at the same workplace). However, some organisations do have policies in place concerning such relationships. For example, some employers refuse to engage any relatives of existing employees and if a relationship does arise after employees meet at work then one or both individuals must leave. This is a strict line approach and therefore the more common practice is for employers to have a policy simply restricting familial or other close connection outside of work between a manager and a direct subordinate. In such situations, the policy usually states that one employee will have to move teams or, if this is not possible due to lack of vacancies or the size of the company, will have to leave…

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