First Comes Love… A Personal Relationship Policy Can Save Headaches Later

March 7, 2016|

Business cooperation or harassment?By Jame Geathers, Human Resources Professional, Jame Geathers Consulting

The season of love, also known as Valentine’s Day, has arrived! With romance in the air it may be difficult for some of your employees to make levelheaded decisions regarding office romance.

With the whirlwind of flower and chocolate deliveries, romance may be in the air, but hot and heavy February can lead to sexual harassment May. What starts as an office romance could end in disaster for your company if sexual harassment and personal relationship policies are not in place.

As a small business owner, it is extremely important that you and your business are protected from the poor judgment of others. It may seem that implementing personal relationship policies will encourage employee fraternization; however, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Creating such policies puts employees on notice of the expectations and requirements if they choose to engage in such relationships. As with any other policy, the employee can choose to follow the policy or seek employment elsewhere.

In order to successfully implement a personal relationship policy, you first want to consider the culture of your organization. Is it more conservative? Do you have a moral clause in your employee contracts? What is your organizational structure? These are just a few things you will want to consider.

To get in front of any future claims of sexual harassment, you may also want to include mandatory disclosure of consensual relationships. This will ensure that all parties involved – the couple and the company – are on the same page. Additionally, you may want to include a guideline prohibiting management/subordinate relationships. Regardless of whether half of the couple is the other partner’s direct supervisor or another member of management, that can lead to the appearance of favoritism and wreak havoc on office morale.

Once your policy is in place it is extremely important that every member of your team is trained on the new policy. After all, if they are not advised of and acknowledge in writing that they understand the policy, it’s worthless. Having it documented in every existing and new employee file will ensure that you have covered all your bases.

If you need additional assistance creating personal relationship and other policies, please contact us!

Jame Geathers is a Human Resources and Operations Professional with more than 12 years of experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. Jame has spent her career building and supporting HR infrastructures that have provided her employers and clients with the structure and policies that all start-ups need but owners may not have time to create and implement. For more information please visit the Jame Geathers Consulting website, or call (706) 496-9691.

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