People involved<br />Lots of people fall in love with their co-workers or their bosses. Other employees typically get swept up in workplace romances through the gossip mill.<br />CAUSES<br />We spend a third or more of our lives in the office or other places of work. <br />It is a non-threatening environment where we have an opportunity to meet potential dating partners and learn more about them than just what they look like.<br />Attraction toward opposite sex, i.e., gender X and gender Y is quite natural. <br />What are the upsides?<br />The upside to romance in the office is that you will have some happy workers. When people are happy they tend to be more productive and have fewer health issues. When partners work for the same employer, they have someone they can talk with about their activities and problems at work who understands and can help them resolve the issues <br />What goes wrong?<br />Never "date down." A romantic relationship with a subordinate could expose the company to a sexual harassment charge if your advances are unwelcome. If you do become involved, others in the workgroup may claim favouritism. Any supervisor in a romantic relationship with a subordinate is immediately vulnerable to claims of quid pro quo sexual harassment, where an employee can claim she was offered a raise or a promotion if she sleeps with her supervisor. A serious danger of striking up such a relationship is that people may think your next promotion or paycheck bonus was undeserved, raising issues of favoritism.<br />Retaliation complaints - Yes. The relationship may end with the two of them being friends. But later, if that supervisor gives the subordinate a bad performance review because she's no longer doing a good job, she can claim that her reviews were fine when she was sleeping with him. Now that she's not, she doesn't get the raise. The subordinate employee can really control the scenario at that point.<br />Conflicts affecting employment decisions, Conflicts affecting vendor relationship, Conflicts affecting competitor relationships.<br />Confidentiality issues-people forget about confidentiality. You may be party to work-related information that you must not share, even with your partner. But you do that.<br />the biggest danger to the company is when a relationship between employees breaks apart. In many cases, the employees will handle it like adults and move on with their respective lives. In other cases, the resulting unpleasantness may require transferring one or both employees to new roles. An employee may file a claim of harassment, even if your policy is very clear and is enforced. In an extreme case, the emotional stress may lead an employee to lash out and commit an act of violence.<br />But when it's co-workers who have a relationship, the employer only needs to be involved if it becomes a distraction. Issues may arise, such as public displays of affection or the couple spending inordinate amounts of time together during work hours. Their co-workers may feel uncomfortable if there is sexual banter, and that can create a hostile work environment. That's a legal term that gets into the wheelhouse of sexual harassment.<br />What is the best course of action for the employer to take?<br />
You have to first make very clear the company policy on harassment. If an employee is not interested in, or receptive to, an advance from another employee, it should end there. Playing around, verbal sparring, etc. are appropriate preludes to dating, but only if the receiving party is comfortable with them. If you have a harassment policy, make it very clear all employees. If you don't have one, you need to generate one right now.
Effective communication. You have a meeting with the couple and tell them you're happy for them, but they need to cool it in the office. More often than not, that approach works. Once they understand that their jobs may be on the line if they don't comply with your instructions, people tend to comply. If they don't, split people up so they don't work in the same department or building.
A contract confirming that the relationship is consensual and that neither will bring a claim for sexual harassment against the other if the relationship ends. <br />
Training and vigilance : Electronic communications policy. A well-written policy will address excessive use of e-mails, the internet and social networking software at work. It will also look at the content of electronic communications to make sure they do not cause offence. This general guidance can be checked to make sure it is wide enough to cover the kinds of communications that lovers may be tempted to use.
Equal treatment: The employer has to be careful not to punish one party or promote them because of this relationship. Often it's the woman who's moved out, and that could be grounds for gender discrimination if she feels she's being demoted.
Legal action against workplace romance<br />Disadvantages<br />Employers cannot control human nature, so a workplace romance policy is unenforceable. And if you establish one, it sends a negative message to employees about your company's willingness to impose itself into their personal lives.<br />The other thing is that you don't want to create a Romeo and Juliet situation. If there's a policy against workplace romances, people will feel they must lie and sneak around, and that's the last thing you want.<br />I insist that clients transfer one of the employees—usually it's the subordinate—so they are not reporting to each other. You have to make it happen fast, because these relationships are usually kept secret for as long as possible.<br />You still want to have a conversation and get both people in the room—and again, there's no way you can tell people to stop seeing each other. If you do, the relationship will go more underground, and the parties will feel more angry and upset.<br />