Relationships with colleagues aren’t a new thing and when colleagues spend 8 hours a day at work there is always a chance that two people could take it to the next level and become more than colleagues and even go on to marry. The question is, how should the organisation handle this and what things do the employees need to be mindful of if this happens.
It’s good practice to ask employees to declare a relationship at work, even if this is a family member, spouse or partner. This can be done through a declaration of interest process and enables the organisation to understand where there might be a conflict or potential for bias. Colleague relationships become more difficult to manage if they are in the same team or work very closely together so it’s important to ensure that the personal side of the relationship is kept separate to the work as much as possible.
If one of the employees is a manager to the other one in the relationship, this can be tricky, especially if there are capability or conduct issues. In this instance we always suggest that someone neutral is asked to manage the situation to avoid it becoming uncomfortable for everyone.
Just because someone is in a relationship does not mean that if an issue arises the partner can be spoken to about it. The individual’s data is still their own and should only be discussed with them rather than shared with others.
There can also be situations where sexual harassment claims can be submitted as a result of a failed relationship.
Whilst it is not impossible to manage, it can be difficult, so having clear employment policies in place that follow the best practices that ACAS recommend, training managers to deal with such situations can also be an advantageous part of your tool kit.
If you have an employment situation where you might need our help, then give us a call and we can support you to navigate this impartially.